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 11/13/2000

Nauseating...

When racking my brain to find a loss as difficult to stomach as this one, the '99 Philadelphia game and the '97 Tampa Bay game quickly come to mind. However, both the '99 Eagles and the '97 Bucs would have had no problem beating the Doug Pederson-led 2000 Browns last Sunday. Not only are the Browns a 2nd year expansion team, but they're a 2nd year expansion team playing with their 3rd string QB and missing four other offensive starters. (Honestly, Doug Pederson would have problems starting for any bowl-bound Division 1A college team.)

Not only did this loss snap a 7-game losing streak for the Browns, it also snapped a touchdown drought going back to the 3rd quarter of an October 15th loss to the Broncos. Pederson's 2nd quarter TD pass represented the only touchdown the Browns have scored since starting QB Tim Couch was lost for the season to injury. During their 7-game slide, the Browns had averaged less than 7 points per game, scoring a total of 6 points in their previous 3 home games combined. Previous to Sunday, 26 games had been played in expansion-Browns history with a grand total of 318 points scored an average of just over 12 points per game.

In the previous 4 weeks combined the Browns amassed 182 rushing yards, yet they ran for 139 yards against a Patriot defense coached by a "genius." If that statistic isn't telling enough, the Browns were able to use their running game on their final possession to run out the clock, preserving an 8-point lead. Even when the defense knew the Browns were going to run they couldn't stop them. Pathetic.

Are you getting the picture here? The Patriots didn't simply slip from 2-7 to 2-8 last Sunday; they did so by losing to a team worse than the NFL scabs of 1987. Not only should the Patriots have beaten up on this team with a less-than-100-percent Drew Bledsoe, but they should have been able to beat up on them with Michael Bishop or Tom Brady at the helm, two players who have yet to run an NFL offense. This loss can not possibly be dissected enough or over-analyzed. Plainly and simply, it's an embarrassment. Neither one Internet pigskin pundit or talk radio prognosticator was picking the Browns to win this game. Not one.

At least now we know...

In August we knew the Patriots were not going to win the Super Bowl. In September we knew they weren't going to win the division. In October we knew they weren't going to make the playoffs, and now, in November, we know the Patriots are among the worst 2 or 3 teams in the National Football league. Dare I ask what December will bring? Could this Patriot team beat the winless Chargers in San Diego? Could they even beat the winless Chargers in Foxboro Stadium? Could our beloved Patriots be THE worst team in the NFL? I'll give you a week to think that over so you'll know the outcome of next week's home game against the Bengals before you answer.

The last time the Patriots looked this bad was the 2-14 season of 1992. That team was shut out three times and scored more than 20 points only three times all season. On defense, the '92 Pats six times allowed the opposition 30 or more points. That team, however, did not have the "talent" this 2000 edition supposedly possesses. Yes the Patriots won only 9 games in three seasons to begin the 1990's, but did any of those teams underachieve? Not since Ron Erhardt's 2-14 1981 squad has a Patriot team fallen so short of their potential, and that's a direct indictment on the head coach, Bill Belichick.

The Patriots aren't rich on talent, but on paper there are as many teams in the NFL who would trade 53-man rosters with the Pats as there are those who would not. The fact that the Patriots have no offensive line and no running game are the direct fault of Bobby Grier, and to an extent Pete Carroll. However for this roster, as thin as it may be, to roll over and play dead for the Cleveland Browns has nothing at all to do with the previous regime. This loss falls squarely on the shoulders of Bill Belichick. Just 10 games into a 5-year contract, it seems absurd that Robert Kraft surrendered a #1 draft pick in order to pry Belichick from the Jets.

We knew that Belichick would have a tough time reversing the erosion that Grier and Carroll began. Rather than stop the bleeding however, he's managed to bury the patient alive. I dare say the Patriots would be no worse than 2-8 had they no head coach whatsoever. What value is Belichick bringing to this team right now? Sure he can draw up a mean game plan, but he can't get his troops to execute it, or worse, even care to execute it. A good coach is supposed to get the most out his team, and Belichick is not even coming close to doing that. Sure the Patriots have lost some close games this season, but when you can't EVER execute in crunch time on either side of the ball, you're going to lose the close games 10 times out of 10.

If this were year 2 or 3 of his contract, Belichick would be fired. Since he's in year 1 of a "secret" rebuilding project, however, he'll be given at least one more year to see if he can right the ship. Unless Belichick makes sweeping changes in his personnel and coaching staff for 2001, the immediate future does not hold much promise. I for one am beginning to wonder if there even exists this notion of a "core" group of players to build around. When you're paying a fortune on defense for Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, and Chris Slade, exactly how good do the other 6 starters have to be? Aren't players such as Chad Eaton, Tedi Bruschi, and Henry Thomas complements enough? Apparently not.

On offense, there are three players, Troy Brown, Damien Woody, and Drew Bledsoe, worth hanging on to. The rest of the offensive roster can be easily replaced, and that includes Terry Glenn, who the Patriots just resigned to a lucrative 7-year extension despite the fact he has yet to be a difference maker on an offense desperate for a go-to guy. Glenn had a great season in '96 with all sorts of talent around him, but has done little, if anything at all, since then. The entire roster should be revamped. It's sad to say that the Houston Texans are in better shape heading into the 2000 offseason than the Patriots are.

The Patriots have too many high priced individual players to be 2-8. These same players were part of the team that went 2-6 over the 2nd half of last season as well. That's 4-14 in the past 18 games. How good can these "marquee" players really be? What the hell good is individual talent if it can't work together to get any wins?

Definition of Stupid...

Why do the Patriots carry 4 quarterbacks on their roster when they only believe one of them to be capable of playing in the NFL? Clearly Drew Bledsoe was not at 100% on Sunday, yet they sent him out there behind a dreadful offensive line to quarterback a 2-7 team with no hope of making the playoffs. Drew was sacked hard on the first play from scrimmage, and was brought down three more times before the end of the game. A blind side hit in the 4th quarter was jarring enough to cause Drew to fumble, something he'd done only twice before all year despite being sacked 34 times.

John Friesz was brought here to be a veteran backup QB who could step in and run the offense if Bledsoe could not. Despite getting a good number of the snaps during the bye week (Drew was with his expecting wife, and then his 3rd son) and a majority of the snaps in practice last week, John Frieze remained on the bench. The injured Drew Bledsoe struggled to throw the ball further than 20 yards, virtually eliminating any deep pass routes the Patriots could run. Could John Frieze really be this bad? Do the coaches really have that little confidence in him?

What of Michael Bishop? Here's a guy who has looked both brilliant and lost at times, but has had his play limited to two preseasons now. By placing Bishop on the inactive list, the Patriots appear ready to give up on the former Heisman trophy runner up without ever letting him prove what he can do in the regular season. How can the Patriots possibly cut this guy without at least giving him a chance to play? I'm far from being one of the talk-radio yahoos who thinks Bishop will save the franchise, but I don't think he can be demoted from 2nd string to the inactive list in two weeks without ever getting onto the field for any meaningful action.

What would have been the harm in playing Bishop or Brady last Sunday? If these guys can't get into a game when the team is 2-7, how are the Patriots ever going to truly evaluate their "other' quarterbacks? Clearly Bledsoe was not at his best, nor even close, yet a team carrying 3 backup quarterbacks has no "Plan B." I agree that the team should continue to try and win every single game, but given the condition of Bledsoe's finger, you can't tell me putting in Friesz, Bishop, or Brady severely hampers your chances of success.

Some would call Michael Bishop a whiner for wanting to be released or traded, but I don't blame him one bit. If you're the 4th quarterback on a Bill Bellichick coached team, you'd need 3 guys in front of you to practically become crippled before you'd get a chance to play.

Rock bottom?

Due in town next week are the 2-8 Cincinnati Bengals. This is a team averaging 126 passing yards per game for the season, and 65 yards passing in their previous 4 games. As bad as they are, however, they did manage a 12-3 win over the Browns three weeks ago in Cleveland.

Should the Patriots lose to the Bengals on Sunday, the team will most certainly implode. Should that happen, we season ticket holders could officially unveil the paper bag masks and break out into a chorus of "Bill must go."

See you next week.