Wide Outs Wanted
The New England Patriots wide receiver corps in 2018 was going to be vastly different than in 2017 regardless of any attrition in training camp. But with the recent release of veteran late signee Eric Decker, the team is now dangerously thin at a position that becomes somewhat important when you consider the Pats QB is a decent player. Since Camp started, the team has released 4 veteran wide outs. With the current camp participants, Only Chris Hogan and Philip Dorsett have caught a pass from #12 in NFL game and Cordarrelle Patterson is more a kick returner, fill in type. The team needs and help… FAST.
How did the Patriots get in this predicament? A lot of bad luck and defections. The team traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams and lost postseason hero Danny Amendola to Miami. Kenny Britt and Jordan Matthews became injury related cuts. Malcolm Mitchell, who was so promising in his 2016 rookie season, could never get his injured knee to heel and after missing the entire 2017 campaign, he was released. Decker just appears to be shot athletically and was not a lock to make the team. Finally, we have the unfortunate Julian Edelman PED suspension situation. Patriots fans like to say Tom Brady can make chicken salad out of chicken s---. In the first four games, He might get to prove that theory.
The Pats need bodies and talent. And a young breakthrough player to step up. Riley McCarron comes to mind. Trades? Keep an eye on the Saints and Broncos. They can also use the depth at running back and tight end to overcome the receiver situation. Get used to hearing lots of 12 and 21 personnel talk. A back and 2 tight ends or 2 backs and a tight end. The Patriots have time and Tom Brady. Usually that works. But be prepared for some rough patches and adversity. And nobody is better I crisis than… #12.
My recent visit to my hometown of Andover, Massachusetts, for the screening of the documentary Four Games in Fall was huge for so many reasons. None of what I do today would be happening without so many people from Andover—many from the Andover High School football team. Our legendary head coach Dick Collins died in 2014. Without him pushing and prodding me, I don’t go to college. Or get out of Andover alive. My old wide receivers coach Peter Comeau was my friend but when I screwed up (which was a lot) he let me know. Yet when the bullets started to fly, he always had my back. Peter Reilly, Sr. is the best special teams’ coach in America. His biggest role for me for more than 30 years is as my sounding board and counsel. Good or bad, he is there. Ultimate Fox Hole guy. The best. But the guy who showed me how to break down film and scout was my Pop Warner coach and AHS defensive coordinator Joe Iarrobino a.k.a. Coach I. And after more than 25 years, he showed up for his old player.
I was lucky enough to play for Coach I in the Andover Junior Football League for two years. We had so many future AHS stars on that team including his son Joe, who was one of my better friends. Mrs. I, a.k.a. Jayne was like my second mom, and whenever I went over to the Iarrobinos, the joke was I had to go talk to her in the kitchen before I could talk to the guys. Coach I followed us to the Andover High program and the combination of his defense and Coach Collins offense made a deadly pairing. He was not for everyone, nor was he perfect, but he was perfect for me. He stressed assignments, reads, tendencies and gap control. Forget high school. When I started volunteering with the Michigan Football program, I already had a Ph.D. from Coach I.
I was not a great player but Coach I didn’t care. I was one of his guys. I was the first to everything and the last to leave. I asked questions and studied. I was an eager student. He always went out of his way to make me feel a big part of the team although I was a bottom of the roster, special teams player. He had a plan for each week to take away the thing they do best—a play, a player, or scheme. Coach I had a plan. This was Bill Belichick taking out Marshall Faulk in Superbowl 36. The Bullseye game plan. Make a team left-handed or uncomfortable. And always focus on stopping that. You do that, you win. We did, and we won. A lot.
Because of Coach I, helping my Buddy on the Patriots figure out how to attack the Legion of Boom or The Lewis-Reed Ravens is not that hard. We are just doing the reverse of what he did at AHS. I look at what the Pats do well and how can we use that to attack the defense. Coach I always told me every defense has a weakness. (He would know) I also have the advantage of knowing how the Brady guy thinks and what he likes. And he has been in the same offense since 2000. I cannot emphasize enough how much Coach Iarrobino teaching us formations, coverages and so forth helps me do what I do today.
I know we have had a bad run with Coaches in the news recently. And two of my friends who coach at AHS were falsely accused and tried in the media this past school year. The Maryland and Ohio State scandals dominate Big Ten country. When you think of these sad stories, think of someone like Coach I. The man runs a successful business, raised three kids and semi-adopted 100s like me via his coaching in basketball, football and baseball. And when you read about me writing reports for that #12 guy as he throws for 505 yards, think of Coach I explaining to me the difference between Cover 2 and Cover 3. I do. And because of Joe Iarrobino’s teachings, I am scouting for a guy who has played in eight Super Bowls, won five, and has more records than the Beatles. He is a big reason why I do what I do. Thanks Coach I!
The New York Mets are suffering thru a second straight tough season and have been unwatchable at times. This has been a tough time for the fans of the New York National League Franchise. But a recent surprising story has at least made Mets fans smile. David Wright is rehabbing in the minors and trying to play. In 2018. He is 35. Has plenty of money, a wife and kid. He could lay out and collect the insurance money. He won’t. Why? He is David Wright. And to understand why he is trying to play right now, you must understand the man.
David Wright is the face of the Mets, the team captain who came up in 2004. For the first five years he was in Queens, the team was good. Then. a long rebuild. The lone positive? David Wright. Captain America. He hit the team’s first home run in their new stadium, Citi Field. He became the Mets’ version of Don Mattingly, a great Yankee who was in Bronx for a long losing stretch then broke down when the team became a power. Wright injured his back and hamstring in the 2012 and 2014 seasons. He developed spinal stenosis, a crippling back condition. He tried to play with that and it ruined his throwing shoulder.
Wright led the charge to the 2015 NL pennant and nothing has gone RIGHT since. Injuries, bad contracts, bad luck, and so forth have buried this team. #5 has been gone since May 2016. The team needs its Captain. This is the type of guy everyone should root for. He visits sick kids, does countless charity work and is a great teammate. A team needs its Captain and the Mets are a rudderless ship without Wright. Thoughts and prayers are a common thought and David Wright is worth it. #LGM
The NFL has a quarterback development problem and always has. The reason? Bad teams draft high and take quarterbacks. Bad teams get bad for a reason. Bad teams also play from behind, which usually means passing situations and hits on the quarterback. And a QUARTERBACK hit in the NFL is surer recipe for defeat than picking a fight with Thanos from Infinity War. And amazingly the NFL and all five teams that took quarterbacks have seen the light. The Browns, Jets, Bills, Cardinals, and Ravens all have veteran QUARTERBACKs who have started in this league. It appears that the league is figuring out it’s hard enough for a veteran signal caller to be on a bad team, let alone a rookie. Winning now and developing the player is a good combination!
Cleveland—yes, the Browns—set the tone when they used the first to draft Baker Mayfield and traded for Tyrod Taylor, who made the playoffs last year with the Buffalo Bills for the first time in 17 years. He is a steady hand and adult who does not do typical Browns’ quarterback things, like turn the ball over!!! In three years in New York, he had 51 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. If Baker Mayfield plays, it’ll be because Taylor is hurt, or the team wants him too. The NY Jets have needed a quarterback for 40 years and added Teddy Bridgewater to gamer Josh McCown. Sam Darnold can take a redshirt year, or the Jets could burn it. He will earn his supper.
The Buffalo Bills got a big-armed athlete in Josh Allen, who has also played in bad weather. Allen played in Wyoming and this might be the first Buffalo quarterback to view his new team as a weather upgrade. Ex-Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron is a veteran starter or tremendous insurance policy. Meanwhile, this writer’s favorite rookie quarterback—Josh Rosen—is blocked by the brittle Sam Bradford. And the Arizona offensive line, already a weakness, lost its starting center to a season ending injury. Finally, the one guy backing up a starting Superbowl winning quarterback Joe Flacco is former Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson. And due to his unique skill sets and abilities in a spread system, he could see playing time in some sub packages like the Wildcat. Jackson is maybe the best athlete on the Ravens. As a quarterback!!! The NFL might be figuring the quarterback dilemma out: DEPTH.
I like to tell people I collect quarterbacks. Part of that is I was a lucky enough to grow up in a town loaded with them and when you’re five-feet nothing and weigh 140 pounds soaking wet, other positions have more opportunities. Since that word—opportunity—is one of my favorites, I want to talk about one of those quarterbacks who makes the best of every one that crosses his path- E.J. Perry IV. The best quarterback EVER from my High school (Andover, Mass.) and the best high school quarterback this writer has seen in 40 years. He is now battling for serious playing time at Boston College. And as a kid who grew up with his dad and famous uncles, I could not be prouder of him on and off the field.
E.J. did record setting things for the Golden Warriors and his father E.J. Perry III, our head coach. He made throws, runs, and even chipped in on defense. Heck, he batted down the ball in the endzone to win the first-round playoff game at Lexington. He played maybe the best game I have seen a high school quarterback play to beat St John’s prep. Only a shady sketchy program stopped our team and E.J. in the next game. The three-sport star then did a smart thing—he picked a sport: football, and Boston College. His mother’s school and one of my top choices coming out of high school. And he forfeited his second half of his senior year at AHS to go. He had an opportunity.
E.J. went to work and turned some heads. My old college buddy Scott Loefler—a.k.a. Lefty—is the Eagle’s quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. He used to coach some guy who plays for the Patriots. The guy who went to the GOOD university in Michigan! An injury happened and E.J. did a Perry thing—he went team first—and told the coaches he wanted to burn his redshirt if he could help the team. He did and got some mop up work. No passes. And I watched every play. And I was never prouder of him. Some would say a wasted year. E.J.? NO.
I check in on E.J. and am tight with his family, he asked me to come to this year’s Spring Game. In April. The same weekend Michigan Football was playing. I promised him. It was an easy choice. U-M got snowed out. B.C. played and E.J. showed why my trip was worth it. He threw an early pick but picked it up with two touchdowns and many “wow” plays. He has gained twenty pounds since high school and is battling for the number two job with starter Anthony Brown back from his ACL injury. Nobody will outwork or out prepare E.J. I will watch every game win or lose, and he has already won. He is hero to our hometown and is exactly what sports needs today- a class kid who works hard and is team first. And he can throw a football. its not a matter of it, it’s a matter of when. E.J. just needs an opportunity.
Beav’s Banter is back, Sports Law edition with the smart, snappy legal insight of Miettinen Law's Jaime Miettien. Jaime was drawn to sports law while in law school at Tulane’s celebrated sports law program. Since then, she’s developed a specialty legal practice in sports and entertainment law.
She’s also a prolific blogger, at SportsLawBlondes.com, lending her knowledge and passion for sports to today’s current events. Jaime spent some time in Beav’s World, taking a deep dive into the legal messes surrounding Urban Meyer, D.J. Durkin, and the NFL.
Most of us watch sports to escape from life -to see a great play, moment or performer. I call sports the original reality show. After more than 40 years of viewing games, I am at the point that very little gets my attention or out of my seat. Soccer Star Wayne Rooney did both this weekend. All the elements of why I love athletic—effort, toughness, speed, team work, skill and clutch play—happened in about 20 seconds. The play speaks for itself.
Wayne is 32 years old, and coming over from England to finish his career in the MLS with DC United. Look how much ground he covered to run down his opponent. After his tackle, he was so tired from sprinting that he did not join his teammates to celebrate. The play itself was incredible under the circumstances. This was in extra time and for the win. To my Boston friends, he went Bill Russell and Bobby Orr in 20 seconds. SMH.
I have been a Rooney guy most of his career. Hell, I owned his Everton jersey and watched probably 200 of his games with Manchester United. I live and die (mostly the former) with the England National team. This is my type of guy. All you need to know about him is the last three tweets on his twitter account: 1. A replay of this goal with him thanking the goal scorer 2. Wayne posting about a young fan he met who passed away last week and 3. Pictures with his family visiting sites in the Nation’s capital. This is an easy guy to root for. And Wayne Rooney showed us why we watch sports.
Beav’s Penalty Box: Urban Meyer
Leave it to me to be out of town when huge, huge news hits Big Ten Football. Last week I visited my hometown of Andover, Mass., and Ohio State Football was in the news. How big was this story? Boston is a poor college sports town and head coach Urban Meyer was the talk of local sports radio. With the Red Sox on pace to win 10,000 games and the Patriots set to be the Patriots, this was a big deal because the crime and coach are a big deal. Urban’s “record” and his spin earn him a nice stay in Beav’s Penalty Box.
Forget this story. Urban has won a lot of games. He has also produced a lot of guys with criminal records. Tim Tebow could not save everyone. The Pouncey Brothers. Percy Harvin. Will Hill. Chris Rainey. My Patriots who avoid troublemakers like contagious pit bulls, drafted three Meyer stars from his great Florida Gators teams and went 0 for 3 on all of them. One murdered people. But hey, he could play tight end. Aaron just needed bible study. No. He needed a bible upside his head. Instead he put bullets in a head of a kid with a family. This coach sold THAT to Bill Belichick. The Krafts ending up having a return sale on his jerseys. Urban’s “record”.
Ohio State has had issues too. Ezekiel Elliott could be a guest star on Judge Judy. He is a tremendous talent who lacks judgement, structure, and common sense. Sound familiar? The team has had major drug and discipline problems. Sound familiar? But hey, Urban wins. Funny what happens when the price of winning outweighs the cost of winning in life. Employing a violent woman abuser turns off even hardened football fans. And when you’re the biggest star in the movie, passing off crimes to an understudy does not cut it. Joe Paterno’s dandruff was twice the man Meyer is and he went down in disgrace because he didn’t stand up. Urban’s “record”.
Meyer and OSU are in an end game now. He used legal buzz words this week and sounded like a man coached-up and fearful of losing his job, team. He should. OSU has the paper trail and systems in place to fire him without paying him a nickel. They should. Will they? Let me explain my answer in the universal language everyone understands: $$$$. Urban Meyer is now bad for business. What female-mother-guardian would trust this man? This will get worse before better for OSU. And that’s why Urban will be toast. And he’ll sit for a LONG TIME in Beav’s Penalty Box.
Things came full circle in Beav’s World Saturday night when Jay “The Beav” Flannelly brought Four Games in Fall to his hometown of Andover, Mass. It was fitting that the town where he grew up and EARNED his nickname would host the documentary film on the topic that made him famous. And even more ironic that his first football coach- Joe Iarrobino-, his old special teams coach( and All time sounding board) Coach Peter Reilly and the current Andover High Football coach (and his lifelong friend) -EJ Perry- where the in the crowd. Film director Julie Marron, Law professor Robert Blecker and Sports law expert (and Andover native) Michael McCann joined Flannelly on stage and they beat DeflateGate like Tom Brady’d beats a blitz.
This night was important for many reasons but #1 has to be the goal of what we are doing here with Beav’s World and Julie’s film. We want to right wrongs and educate folks. And this documentary and its cast of legal and scientific experts show that the NFL used several favorable circumstances to serve as judge, jury and executioner on Beav’s team and boy. 0 for 2, Roger. And the reasons behind the framing should anger regular folks and fans of any team. New England fans should want The Commissioner dropped in Clam Chowder.
On a personal level, this all happened because of … Andover. Flannelly was raised here and grew to love sports and COMPETING on those fields. He does not get to Michigan without… THIS. How The Football staff and team adopted his partner Kathy Hoekstra when she visited last summer was a HUGE piece of the puzzle. Hint: If you want Jay to do something, talk to the person he talks with everyday. He listens to her. (MOST of the time.) A guy who had not stepped foot in town for 15 years has visited 3 times in 9 months. Ok, ok, its because my Buddy Matty at Perry’s Plate has the best food in town.
The Brady connection also is a big, big component of this. Apparently Tommy is a big deal back home. When you go to the team’s website and see a video of a couple from Asia bringing twins they named after #12 and Julian Edelman to practice, you begin to understand what it is like to be me. I get I named my son, daughter, dog, cat, fish and horse after Tom. A lot. The football thing is a huge part of him but the biggest part of #12 and I is the same: we work. And I will not stop until this film exposes Deflategate for what it is: A fraud. Just like Roger. And Andover- and our motto coined by the late great Dick Collins- is simple but impactful: The word quit does not exist in Andover. Or Beav’s World. 1-800-Movers, Roger.