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 10/4/2000

Keep hope alive...

Just when I thought I had a couple of season ticket books with 6 "meaningless" homes games left, the Patriots went and did the unthinkable and beat the Broncos in Denver. Yes the Patriots are still 1-4, but 60,000 strong will have good reason to cheer their lungs out when the Patriots take the field Sunday afternoon against the Colts.

Following the loss to Minnesota, I sited the Miami game as a "must" win in order for the Patriots to salvage their season. At the time, myself and everyone else on the planet knew that 0-4 would almost by default become 0-5 before the Patriots returned home to "play out the string." Perhaps I'm getting too excited about a single win when five games have been played, but the Patriots now have some momentum heading into two make-or-break home games against the mettle of the AFC East.

(Stay with me here...)

Should the Patriots manage to win their next two at home, they will assure themselves of at least 3 wins at their bye week, setting the stage for a run to the post-season when play resumes against the Bills at home on November 5. If the Pats improve to 4-5 by defeating the Bills at home, they'd be looking dead ahead to Cleveland with a chance to get to 5-5.

Should the Pats be a .500 team heading into their last 6 games, I would be very surprised it they didn't finish at least 9-7, which as we know is good enough to sneak in. We also know that nobody will want to host a playoff team that began the year 0-4.

Sure it's nonsense to be talking playoff scenarios for a 1-4 team in October, but if you want reality to smack you the face, perhaps you should surf over to the Globe's Web site and get their columnists' thoughts on the Pats chances this season, or simply read on.

Whoop-de-frickin'-do...

So Bill Belichick and the Pats finally won a game. Well congratulations. Had it been stated back when Belichick was hired that this was a rebuilding process, we could all rejoice much like the Browns fans did last year when Chris Palmer and his expansion franchise earned their first win of the 1999 season.

However, when it's publicly stated numerous times by the players, ownership, and the new head coach that the 1st round draft choice was surrendered to "win now," then winning your first game of the season in October is nothing to celebrate.

Yes it's a tremendous accomplishment to win in Denver, and Bill Belichick and his staff deserve a great deal of the credit. They accomplished what Clive Rush, John Mazur, Ron Erhardt, Ron Meyer, Raymond Berry, Dick MacPherson, and Pete Carroll collectively could not in the Patriots last 10 trips to Denver. The immortal Bill Parcells could not even beat Denver in Foxboro Stadium, losing a collective 71 to 11 in two contests with a "Super Bowl" Patriots team.

However, of those 8 coaches spanning 20 seasons, only Rush in '70, Erhardt in '81, and MacPherson in '92 ever started out a season 0-4. Those 3 teams finished a combined 6-40, but then again only the '81 team had legitimate preseason aspirations of even making it to .500.

Pete Carroll was fired after an 8-8 season in which one of the 8 wins was against the Broncos at home. When you replace a fired coach because the owner wants to "win now," you at the very least have to have a better season than the guy you replaced did. While 1-4 is better than 0-5, Belichick still needs 8 wins in his final 12 games to show measurable improvement. While Carroll went 0-1 in Denver, he was 3-0 against the Colts in Foxboro Stadium, including a 31-28 comeback thriller in week 2 of last season. If the Pats lose to the Colts at home next Sunday, Pete Carroll's smirk will grow wider as he continues to collect a $1 Million salary from Robert Kraft.

Seven days is an eternity...

The Patriots did upset the Broncos in Denver, but then again the 0-3 Steelers finally got into the win column with their first ever victory in Jacksonville. Think the Steelers have a chance against the Jets next week? Then why should we hope for the Pats to win two in a row after going 0-4? Philly won a big road game in Dallas in week 1, only to return home to lose to the now 2-3 Giants. Tampa Bay shook off a major jinx at the Silverdome in week 3, and has not won a game since. Dallas knocked off the heavily favored Redskins on the road on a Monday Night, only to return home to be pasted by the lowly 49ers. The Colts got off to a great start this season with an impressive road victory in Arrowhead Stadium. The defending division champs returned home to be upended by the Oakland Raiders.

In the NFL, the most common mantra is "What a difference a week can make." We saw that in Denver last week, as clearly that was not the same Patriot team that had lost 10-3 to the Dolphins in Miami. Can we hope that winning is as contagious in the Patriots' locker room as losing proved to be? We'll have to wait and see, but Las Vegas apparently is not impressed, as the Pats are currently 4-point underdogs at home.

So while I can clearly see that winning one game should not invoke talk of the post season, it wouldn't be much fun to write the season off in October now would it? While the realist in me sees otherwise, I honestly believe the Pats will be 3-4 before they next get on an airplane. Why? I don't know. Probably for the same reason why I lose sleep when the Pats lose a game. Just a game you say? I just have too many years of emotional investment in this "hobby" to allow myself to think otherwise.

Once in a lifetime...

A lot of different facts and figures from 1968 were thrown around last week. We were continually reminded of who was in the White House, what songs were on the charts, what people where watching on TV, and what bread, milk, and gasoline cost the last time the Patriots defeated the Broncos in Denver.

While that's all great to put things in perspective, all you need to tell me was that I was not even born yet. Children were not even in my parent's immediate plans, as they had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary six days prior to the Patriots 20-17 victory.

Mom and Dad are now retired, and I'm 30 years old working on my 4th year of marriage with two daughters. I don't need to know what a gallon of milk cost in 1968 to know what a long, long, long time it's been since anyone in New England witnessed what Patriot Nation saw unfold in Mile High stadium last Sunday. Patriots 28, Broncos 19. Save it to tape and show it to the grandkids someday.

Patriot Nation less one...

I'm going to leave you this week on a far more somber note than usual. Jim Burns, a 63-year old co-worker of mine and an avid Patriots and Red Sox fan died unexpectedly in his sleep a week ago last Sunday night. I could always count on Jim first thing Monday mornings to bellow out to me "What the hell is wrong with your Patriots?", proceeding of course to answer his own question. When a guy who has watched almost every Patriots game since their inaugural game in 1960 says, "This offensive line is terrible," it's hard not to trust his judgment.

Jim was full of more specific answers to what plagues Boston sports as well, from how Terry Glenn needs to run his routes in the red zone to why Troy O'Leary needs to alter his batting stance. Jim closely followed Patriots football for over 40 years and the Red Sox for his entire life without seeing a championship. If there truly is life after death, it's no wonder the Patriots finally won a game in Denver. We'll miss you Jim.

See you next week.