What Should New England Do With Chad Ochocinco?

What should New England do with Chad Ochocinco's contract? (Photo Credit: USA Today)

By Matt Noonan 

One of the beauties of living in Boston is that all four major professional sports teams are constantly being examined under a microscope.

Reporters, media members and fans always question various decisions or moves that team owners and presidents execute on a day-to-day basis. And with that being said, I’ve decided to join this so-called “party” by providing a few thoughts on some recent New England Patriots news pertaining toward Mr. Chad Ochocinco.

Here is my two-cents on his current contract:

When reports surfaced on Wednesday about the Patriots considering restructuring Ochocinco’s contract, the first thing I thought was that the highly touted wide out was going to be shown the door.

However, I was wrong.

What the Patriots are doing is practically redoing a deal that is providing Ochocinco with too much money. He’s expected to receive a base salary of $3 million in 2012 and an additional $3 million in 2013, but since he finished the past season with just 15 catches and one touchdown, I think it’s best that the organization lowers his future income, especially since he hasn’t exceeded expectations.

A player who earns that much money in the NFL should have finished a campaign with more catches and touchdowns, but numerous mistakes hampered Ochocinco, who clearly didn’t understand Bill Belichick’s system.

So, what should New England do?

Well, I’d say, lower his monthly income, and make sure he begins preparing for the upcoming season immediately.

He certainly can make an impact on a team that definitely needs a “deep threat.” The Patriots offense is lethal with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, as well as the best quarterback in the game, Tom Brady. However, if Ochocinco learns the playbook, he’ll be able to assist his offensive counterparts by stretching the field, and opening up various pass and run plays, too.

I’m a firm believer in Ochocinco, and confident that an actual non-lockout offseason will help this two-time First-Team All-Pro makeup for his 2011 blunders.

New York Trash Talk Won’t Faze New England On Sunday

Will the brash words of the New York Giants help them defeat the New England Patriots on Sunday? (Photo Credit: Media.KansasCity.com)

By Nate Boroyan 

As a New England sports fan, I often take it as a personal insult if a player on an opposing team starts talking “trash” about Boston sports. I don’t know why, but I guess after a decade of dominance, I’ve found it hard to believe that people could insult any team located in Massachusetts.

This week however, the teenage angst has dissipated and I have fallen back into a state of euphoric reflection.

If you don’t already know, the New England Patriots have a big game on Sunday, and for the record, they’re playing the New York “Football” Giants.

Yes, it’s the rematch of Super Bowl XLII, but it’s also a chance for redemption, as well as the opportunity to erase the past and remove the phrase, “What could have been” out of our minds.

Admittedly, the matchup originally petrified me. The prospect of facing a team with as much momentum as the Giants with the “mouth-breather,” Eli Manning himself, playing the best Football of his career seemed like a daunting task, but then media day arrived, and from listening/reading quotes from various Giants players, I realized that this is the most emotionally confused and damaged group of football stars.

Half of these so-called, “New Yorkers” admitted that they’ve already won the Super Bowl, while others attempted to act like the Patriots, who’re regularly humble human beings.

Heads up guys, you can’t be world-beaters and underdogs because that’s not how it works. You pick an angle and use it to your advantage. If you say, you’re going to win the game, then stand by it and make sure everyone on the team is on the same page. Although, if you’re going to be the underdog, utilize it to you’re advantage and jack up you’re intensity.

With New England, you know what you’re going to get. They’re going to try and be as down to earth as possible. True, its 99.99 percent mind games, but still, they absolutely won’t say anything that will give the other team added motivation, right?

Although, I must ask, has anyone heard listened to the “talking heads” this past week on ESPN? Well, in case you haven’t, they believe that New York is going to roll over New England, and capture their second NFL championship in four seasons.

In fact, almost every analyst, most notably Phillip Simms and Ron Jaworski picked the Giants to beat the Patriots because of New York’s prolific pass rush. On top of that, the Patriots are only three-point favorites – a line that doesn’t seem unreasonable, especially since New England finished the year, 13-3.

Although, I do wonder if it’s really an insult for a 9-7 team, who ended the season with two loses to the Washington Redskins, as well as one to the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks, to be labeled underdogs against New England?

Does Eli Manning have what it takes to beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, again? (Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

Last time I checked, the Patriots finished the year with four more wins, but that doesn’t seem to faze Manning, who told the reporters, “Whoever they try to take away, other guys will be open.”

Whoa!

Take it easy there, gunslinger. I know you’ve won a Super Bowl, but you’re not exactly Cam Newton when it comes to charisma.

Cornerback Corey Webster, who has decided to backtrack a bit when it comes to the Giant’s confidence said, “We are just happy to be here. We had a great first practice. The enthusiasm was there and if we keep on doing that then we will be ok.”

Well you might be happy to be in the Super Bowl, Corey, but others seem to think that it’s ludicrous that New York gets to play in this particular game.

Giant’s alliteration and confusion aside, I happen to appreciate the talk, and from a media standpoint, it makes it so much more interesting.

As a Pats fan, the talking has put me in a comfortable mood, and while analyst and players will downplay the significance of trash talk by players, I won’t.

The fact that I’m hearing and reading everything that the Giants are saying leads me to believe that one or two of the Patriots might be doing the same thing, too. However, we’ll never hear about it, but I think its safe to assume that a Bill Belichick coached team is well versed in the practice of finding bulletin board material.

People going against New England and riding the wave of the hot team. They may be favorites, but in reality, they’re underdogs. They can’t overcome Rob Gronkowski’s injury. Their defense can’t contain the Giants offense. Their offense line can’t stop the Giants rush, and certainly they cannot win a fourth Super Bowl.

I don’t think the Patriots would want it any other way. Despite their accolades, they are the same team acting as if they’re the ones that are just happy to be there.

So what does all this mean? Ahem… Cue the Duck Boats!

Daily Noontime for February 1, 2012

Dennis Seidenberg scored the go-ahead goal on Tuesday, which helped the Bruins defeat the Senators, 4-3! (Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Happy “Hump Day” to everyone, as well as happy February, too! Let’s jumpstart the month with some headlines and news that rock!

* The Boston Bruins kicked-off the second half of their schedule with a win against Ottawa, 4-3 at the TD Garden. Dennis Seidenberg notched the go-ahead goal at 7:09 in the third period, which secured the Black and Gold’s 32nd win of the season. Tim Thomas turned away 30 of 33 shots between the pipes, too. The Bruins will return to the ice on Thursday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

* Despite allowing Cleveland to register 32 points in the fourth frame, the Boston Celtics defeated the Cavaliers in Ohio, 93-90. Paul Pierce led the squad with 20 points, while Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass each tallied 13 points. The Green and White will return to the hardwood on Wednesday when they host the Toronto Raptors for a 7:30pm tip-off.

* Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a bullpen session on Tuesday for the first time since he had season-ending elbow surgery last June. The Boston Red Sox pitcher is expected to continue throwing on Wednesday, and then do another bullpen session on Friday. Also, he’s expected to join the club this season.

* The New England Patriots are expected to return to the gridiron on Wednesday after taking a day off for “Media Day” on Tuesday. Although, one of the biggest questions is will Rob Gronkowski join his team on the practice field? We’ll find out!

Countdown to Super Bowl XLVI: Recapping Media Day (Links)

The New England Patriots players seemed to enjoy Media Day! (Photo Credit: TimesUnion.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Tuesday, which means we’re inching closer to Sunday’s big game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. Although, while we anxiously count down the hours, minutes and seconds, let’s continue our series, “Countdown to the Super Bowl” with a few highlights and links from Media Day.

* Media Day’s are normally filled with a variety of thought provoking, as well as silly and bizarre questions. Do you think someone asked Bill Belichick to spell his receivers names? I don’t think so, but according to an article from the AP, we learn about some of the unusual questions that were asked on Tuesday.

* ESPNBoston.com provided an interesting blog that featured highlights of a Tedy Bruschi interview on The Herd with Chris Cowherd radio show. Bruschi talked about the big game and tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s injury.

* Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco reflected on this past year with New England, and talked with the NFL Network about the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.

* New England quarterback Tom Brady certainly enjoyed his fifth “Media Day,” and handled the press “with aplomb.”

* According to ESPNNewYork.com – Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is excited to test the Patriots questionable secondary.

* The New York Times provides an interesting piece on quarterback Eli Manning, who spoke with reporters about his brother Peyton Manning, but not his future.

* It’s a total long shot, but could Giants head coach Tom Coughlin “be forging a legacy” if his team defeats the Patriots, again?

* The New York Daily News profiled Belichick’s “Media Day” experience.

Daily Noontime – January 31, 2012

Are you ready for Super Bowl Media Day? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s just another day in paradise. Here are some headlines and news from the city of Boston, as well as the six states of New England.

* Tuesday marks the official Super Bowl “Media Day.” The New England Patriots will talk with reporters at 10AM, while the New York Giants will discuss the upcoming championship contest at 12PM. And according to reports, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to take part in Tuesday’s festivities. The tight end has been spotted sporting a boot these past few days due to an injury he sustained during the AFC Championship game.

* According to Tom E. Curran of Comcast Sports New England – Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz predicted on Monday that New York is going to beat New England in the Super Bowl. However, he didn’t have a score prediction, but assured the media, as well as the fans that Big Blue will return to the Big Apple with a “W.”

* The Boston Bruins will return home from their All-Star festivities on Tuesday to host the Ottawa Senators, while the Boston Celtics will head to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers.

* According to reports – Nathan Horton is still experiencing the effects of a mild concussion, which he sustained a few weeks ago against the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s not expected to return to the ice on Tuesday, but hopes to be back with the team soon.

Patriots-Ravens Monday Links

By NoontimeSports.com 

Sunday’s tilt between Baltimore and New England was certainly dramatic, as well as an epic clash, too. And while many still have this particular game on their mind, Noontime Sports thought we’d create a list of interesting “day after” headlines.

* The Chicago Sun-Times has an interesting piece pertaining toward Billy Cundiff, who missed the potential game-tying field in the fourth quarter.

* The Washington Post regales about the Ravens final drive, and how they were 14-yards away from punching their ticket to Super Bowl XLVI.

* Wide receiver Lee Evans told the media that this particular loss falls on his shoulders.

* The Eagle Tribune provides a great article on New England’s Sterling Moore, who dislodged the ball from Evans’ grasp in the fourth quarter.

* After Sunday’s game concluded, Baltimore’s Ray Lewis hinted that he’s planning on not retiring.

* According to sources — New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski ankle injury won’t prevent him from suiting up and playing against the New York Giants in two weeks.

* Tom Brady didn’t exactly play his best game on Sunday, and on Monday, he told Boston’s Sports Radio Station, (WEEI/93.7FM) that he didn’t exactly sleep well on Sunday due to a few mistakes.

* Brendon Ayanbadejo admitted through Twitter that despite the Ravens heartbreaking loss, he’s planning on not watching the “unSuper Bowl” in two weeks.

The Boston Sports Pulse: New England Patriots

By Matt Noonan 

Last year, Noontime Sports ran a column that featured an insightful breakdown of all four major Boston sports teams, as well as their current statuses as of last January, (2011).

This year, we’re making a change.

Instead of combining four teams into one blog, we’ve decided to separate each squad, and provide four individual posts, which will focus thoroughly on that one team.

So, we’ve decided to kick off this four part series with the New England Patriots, who’re technically two wins away from earning their fourth Super Bowl trophy in 10 years.

Here are some thoughts and analysis on the local pigskin squad, enjoy.

Reflecting On The Past Year:  It’s been a rather interesting season for the Patriots, who not only earned their third AFC East championship crown in the past four years, but also, the top seed in the AFC Conference, too.

Tom Brady experienced one his better seasons as a quarterback. He tossed 39 touchdowns and recorded 5,235 yards through the air, as well as helped second year tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez become elite stars.

Both tight ends combined for 2,237 yards and 24 touchdowns in 16 games.

However, the biggest weakness for New England was their defense, which yielded 342 points, and 6,577 yards. They also allowed opponents to average 6.2 yards per play, as well as tally 370 first downs and 26 touchdowns.

Yet, the Patriots front seven and secondary did combine for 23 interceptions and 40 sacks.

Biggest Disappointment From The Past Year: During the 2011 season, New England did not defeat a team with a winning record.

They lost to the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, who managed to tally nine wins or more, as well as secure a spot in the postseason, too.

However, against Dallas, Denver, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, New England earned wins, but they weren’t exactly “special” or “great,” especially since all these teams finished the season with roughly eight wins or less.

It’s indeed rather shocking that their opponents didn’t have great records, but earning the top spot in the conference against underachieving squads isn’t exactly something to feel great about, right?

Who knows how the rest of the season will play out, but certainly, Patriots fans will always remember this particular squad as the team that didn’t defeat any true “winners.”

Playoff Success: No Patriots blog would be complete without providing a few intriguing statistics from their past playoff tilt against the Denver Broncos, but also noting that their most recent victory snapped a two-game playoff-losing streak, which dated back to their last win against the San Diego Chargers in the  AFC championship in 2008.

Against the Broncos, Brady completed 26-of-34 passes for 363 yards, and six touchdowns. He tossed five of his six scores in the first half, while his opponent, Tim Tebow, struggled immensely, as well as finished 9-of-26 for 136 yards. He didn’t register a single touchdown or interception, but did manage to get sacked five times.

New England will face a daunting task on Sunday when they welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Gillette Stadium, who defeated the Patriots during the 2009 playoffs, 33-14.

Closing Thought: The New England Patriots finally won their first playoff game in four years, but now, they need to use that momentum to carry them to Indianapolis, Indiana for Super Bowl XLVI.

Yet, do they have what it takes to win their fourth championship in 10 years? Um… I think so, (yes, I am a tad bit unsure).

New England isn’t exactly the flashiest squad in the NFL. Their defense was horrendous, but their offense was stupendous, and yes, I know that rhymed.

However, if they do manage to reach the NFL title match, it will certainly prove to teams like Philadelphia that you don’t need loads of talent to win championships.

The Patriots have always been about teamwork and hard work. They’re not self-centered players. They want to win a championship, as well as continue their modern day 21st century dynasty.

So, in conclusion, I am going to display my “hometown optimism” by saying, they’ll end this current season by celebrating on the same fake grass that Peyton Manning defeated them on November 15, 2009, with a Vince Lombardi championship trophy.

Fans Take: What are your thoughts or “two cents” on the current Patriots squad? Do you think they have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl and win? If so, post your thoughts below, as well as on our Facebook page, too.

Follow Matt Noonan on Twitter @NoontimeSports.

Five thing we learned (or already knew) about the 2011 Patriots

By Andy Lindberg 

The New England Patriots have put together another great season, clinching a first round playoff bye to this point with one game yet to play in the regular season.  Here are five things we have learned (or already knew) over the course of this season.

1.  Rob Gronkowski is a freak.

Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end I have ever seen wear a Patriots uniform, even over the great Ben Coates.  In his second season in the NFL, Gronkowski has amassed 1,219 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns (15 receiving and 1 rushing).  He has broken the record for touchdowns caught by a tight end in a single season at the age of 22.  He cannot be covered by anyone it seems, as his tackle breaking ability and balance combined provide for a devastating combination and the ultimate red zone target.  His ability as a blocker is overlooked as well, pushing defenders clear on off-tackle runs by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  Gronkowski still has one game left to play to add to his record-breaking season.

2.  The Patriots’ defense is freakishly bad.

I understand why Vince Wilfork and other New England defenders are sick and tired of being berated on all levels by the media and other teams.  They, however, need to understand why.  They’re bad.  Two games ago the Patriots had to start Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater at defensive back.  Both are wide receivers.  The Patriots are dead last in total defense.  Surprisingly, the team that is second to last in total defense are the Green Bay Packers, the reigning Super Bowl champs and a 14-1 team.  Apparently, defense isn’t needed to win championships anymore.  The Packers, however, force copious amounts of turnovers (they lead the league with 29 interceptions).  The bend but don’t break philosophy can only last so long, as teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore pose a serious threat to New England in the playoffs.  This offseason, the Patriots need to finally address their pass defense issues and need to draft accordingly.

3.  Tom Brady under duress is a bad time.

Some quarterbacks are fine under pressure.  Tom Brady is not one of those quarterbacks.  Brady can sense pressure better than anyone else in the league.  He’ll step up in the pocket, maneuver as best he can, heck, he’ll even run for extra yards.  But if you plant Brady on the ground consistently, you’re going to beat the Patriots.  Ask the Giants of ’07, the Ravens of ’09, the Jets of last year.  All of those teams beat New England in the playoffs by consistently frustrating Brady.  The Patriots almost lost to the Dolphins this past week and even got shut out in the first half because Brady nearly became a permanent member of the turf on the field.  When given enough time, Brady will work wonders.  Frustrate him, and you’ve won the game.

4.  The above being said, Tom Brady can still bring it.

Tom Brady is still putting up career numbers, setting a personal best in passing yards (4,897) and with one game to go, will likely throw for over 5,000 yards this season.  His 36 touchdown passes match last year’s totals, but what Brady is doing more of is taking the ball himself and running with it, notching three rushing touchdowns this season.  Watch out, Tebow.  The question remains, at 34-years of age, how much longer will Brady be able to keep putting up premier numbers?  The Patriots would be wise to draft a successor within the coming years.

5.  Brian Waters was the pickup of the year for New England.

Waters, a 34-year old former pro-bowl right guard, was let go this past off-season by the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Patriots were quick to scoop Waters up and he paid immediate dividends, solidifying the right side of the offensive line for Brady and contributing to a line that has only given up 28 sacks this season.  Waters has played in all 15 games to this point and come playoff time will be even more important now that Logan Mankins is hurt.

VIDEO: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski Sets The Single Season Touchdown Record

By NoontimeSports.com 

On Sunday against the Washington Redskins, Rob Gronkowski set the single season record for touchdowns by a tight end. His 14th touchdown catch is the most any tight end has ever caught in a season, and luckily for him, the New England Patriots have three more contests to play.

Gronkowski was a major contributors in the team’s 10th win, as he finished the game with two touchdowns, and six catches for 160 yards.

Here’s a video recapping his epic performance against the Redskins, enjoy.

NFL Week 13 – Afternoon/Evening Scoreboard

By Brian Willwerth 

A recap of Week 13 in the NFL – three of Sunday’s games was decided on the final play of regulation, or overtime. We’ll start with those.

PACKERS 38, GIANTS 35 — Our “Game of the Day” will no doubt get some votes for “Game of the YEAR” when all is said and done. Green Bay and New York combined for nearly 900 yards of total offense. Let’s jump right to crunch time.  Trailing by eight in the final minute, Eli Manning threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. The Giants made the two-point conversion to tie the game, but then Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the ball at his own 20 with 0:58 left on the clock. It only took two big plays for him to lead his team into field goal range. Mason Crosby kicked the game-winning, 30-yard field goal, as time expired, and yes, the Packers improved to [12-0]. Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, while Manning tossed three.

CARDINALS 19, COWBOYS 13 (OT)  – What a wild ending in Glendale, Arizona, and one that will be talked about a lot in Dallas for the next few days. With 0:07 remaining, Dan Bailey was lining up for a game-winning field goal attempt. A timeout was called to ice the kicker. But, the stoppage was called by Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. Bailey’s kick, which went through the uprights, did not count. He had to try it again, and came up short. Arizona got the ball to start overtime, and Kevin Kolb hit Larod Stephens-Howling, who danced through the Cowboys’ defense and into the end zone for a 52-yard, game-winning score. And it’s all because Jason Garrett iced his own kicker, wow!

BRONCOS 35, VIKINGS 32 – Don’t look now, but Denver is now tied for first place in the AFC West. And once again, Tim Tebow led his team from behind. He threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Then after the Broncos picked off Christian Ponder with less than two minutes remaining, they marched down the field and Matt Prater kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired. Tebow is now [6-1] as the Broncos’ starting quarterback.

TITANS 23, BILLS 17Chris Johnson is finding his groove. He ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Johnson has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four games.

CHIEFS 10, BEARS 3 – While this was hardly the best game of the day, it may have featured the play of the day or maybe it was just Kevin Harlan’s voice that made it special. The only touchdown of the contest came on the final play of the first half, when Tyler Palko’s “Hail Mary” pass landed in the arms of Dexter McCluster.  Chicago suffered a significant blow when Matt Forte left the game with a right knee injury.

DOLPHINS 34, RAIDERS 14 – Here’s the upset of the day. In Miami, the Dolphins made it look easy against the first-place Raiders. Reggie Bush ran for 100 yards and a touchdown. Miami scored two touchdowns within 20 seconds of each other in the third quarter.

PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 24 – They love Rob Gronkowski in Foxboro, Massachusetts, as the tight end scored three more touchdowns, giving him 13th touchdown receptions on the season. His other score was a rushing TD on a lateral. The Pats built a big lead, and then hung on as the Colts scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis is now [0-12], while New England is [9-3].

STEELERS 35, BENGALS 7 – This was a statement game for Pittsburgh. At Heinz Field, Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, as the Steelers swept the season series from Cincinnati, who is now [0-3] against the two teams ahead of them in the AFC North, (PIT and BAL.)

PANTHERS 38, BUCCANEERS 19 – This was all about Cam Newton. Carolina’s rookie quarterback rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another at Raymond James Stadium. Josh Johnson started at quarterback for Tampa Bay in place of the injured Josh Freeman. The Bucs, who at one time were [4-2], and in first place, have lost six in a row.

JETS 34, REDSKINS 19 – At FedEx Field, the Jets kept their playoff hopes alive by rallying for 21 points in the fourth quarter. Mark Sanchez found Santonio Holmes for the game-winning touchdown with 4:49 to play. Washington has lost seven of its last eight.

TEXANS 17, FALCONS 10 – It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback for Houston; the Texans keep on winning. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates played mistake-free football, and Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown.  Atlanta QB Matt Ryan’s last-second pass in the end zone fell incomplete.

49ERS 26, RAMS 0 – We have our first division winner. San Francisco wrapped up in the NFC East with an easy victory at home over St. Louis. Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes, while Frank Gore ran for 73 yards, and became the franchise’s career rushing leader.

RAVENS 24, BROWNS 10 – Neither a driving rainstorm nor Cleveland’s defense could slow down Ray Rice. The Baltimore running back broke loose for a career-high 204 yards, as the Ravens remained in first place in the AFC North. They own the tiebreaker over the Steelers.