Daily Noontime – May 7, 2012

Paul Pierce paced the Celtics with 24 points on Sunday, which helped Boston capture Game No. 4 against Atlanta! (Photo Credit: Cleveland.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s a brand new week, which means … the Daily Noontime! Here are some headlines and news from the best city in the world…Boston!

* The Boston Celtics are one game away from knocking out the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA playoffs, as the Green and White earned an impressive, 101-79 victory. Paul Pierce paced all scorers in Game No. 4 with 24 points, while Rajon Rondo concluded the contest with 20 points and 16 assists.

* Despite leading his team in points, Pierce sustained a left knee injury during shoot around on Sunday, which left his status for Game No. 4 up in the air. However, he did play, but aggravated his knee, which means his status for Game No. 5 on Tuesday is uncertain. Also, Avery Bradley, who dislocated his shoulder during Friday’s contest, finished Sunday’s game with six points, one rebound and one steal.

* The Boston Red Sox woes continued on Sunday, as the Baltimore Orioles concluded their three-game series sweep with a 9-6 win in 17 innings.Clay Buchholz lasted 3.2 innings, and surrendered seven hits, five earned runs and three home runs. Will Middlebrooks hit his first career home run in a Sox uniform, while David Ortiz recorded two hits and double in the loss.

* The Sox have now dropped five out of their last six contests, and will attempt to rebound on Monday when they travel to Kansas City for an 8:10pm first pitch — Felix Doubront opposes Jonathan Sanchez.

* Last, but certainly not least, New England Patriots left tackle Matt Light is scheduled to announce his retirement on Monday. He issued a statement to the media on Sunday, and will meet with reporters at Gillette Stadium to wrap up his 11-year career with the Patriots.

Daily Noontime – March 26, 2012

Avery Bradley paced the Green and White on Sunday with 23 points! (Photo Credit: CelticsHub.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Good Monday to everyone, and let’s welcome back the Daily Noontime! After a week off, we’re back and ready to roll. So, without further ado, let’s kick-start the day with some headlines and news.

* The Boston Celtics tallied 53 first half points and never looked back, as the Green and White defeated the Washington Wizards at home on Sunday, 88-76. Avery Bradley paced the Celtics with 23 points, while Paul Pierce tallied 21 points. Boston is now 26-22, and will attempt to earn another “w” on Monday when they travel to Charlotte to tip-off against the Bobcats at 7:00pm.

Marty Turco recorded his first win in a Boston sweater on Sunday, as the Bruins defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 3-2. The win marks a 2-1 record for the Black and Gold, who’ll be returning home from their west coast trip on Tuesday to face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston has seven games remaining on their schedule, and certainly each match will be critical for the Black and Gold, especially if they’d like to remain the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

* For the first time in 19 games, Rich Peverley returned to the ice after sustaining a MCL sprain in his right knee a few weeks ago. The forward told the media after the game concluded that he felt good, and was content about being able to play, too.

* Boston College will return to the Frozen Four for the second time in three seasons, as the Eagles defeated Minnesota-Duluth on Sunday at the DCU Center in Worcester, 4-0. Minnesota-Duluth was the defending champions, but apparently BC was too much for them. The Eagles will return to the ice on Thursday, April 5, when they face-off against the University of Minnesota.

* Finally, New England Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who according to sources is expected to retire, was recently elected to NFL Players Association executive committee. He told reporters that he’s committed to helping younger players grow in the sport he loves.

Top-10 New England Patriots of the 21st Century

By Andy Lindberg

Who makes the list?

Well my Red Sox top-10 of the 21st century got lit into a few times, which I was happy to see, because it means people are reading and looking at the website.  However it is now my great pleasure to create even more of a fervor with my top-10 Patriots of the 21st century.  The bottom line is, with lists like these when you can only pick ten players, you’re leaving out some great athletes.  That’s the challenge of creating such a list.  No matter who you put on there, people will always desire another player or two who were left off the list.

Honorable Mentions: Corey Dillon, Logan Mankins, and Randy Moss

10 Rodney Harrison: Harrison came to New England and immediately won two rings.  He had 317 tackles from the safety position and brought a mean streak to New England that had opposing receivers quaking.  Harrison shut down Peyton Manning on numerous occasions, including in the playoffs.

9 Kevin Faulk: This is the pick that will probably catch the most heat.  However, Faulk was indispensable for the Patriots in the past 11 years.  While it seems his tenure is done now, he was extraordinarily reliable and executed his role fluently as the 3rd down back and return man.  Faulk is a threat as a runner and coming out of the backfield as a receiver.  In his New England career, he has averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

8 Ty Law: One of the members of the original Law Firm (Law and Lawyer Milloy) Ty Law picked off 16 passes in the five years he played for New England this century, including a pick-six off Rams’ QB Kurt Warner in Super Bowl 36.  Law was the shutdown corner the Patriots missed so much after he left.

7 Asante Samuel: Samuel didn’t leave New England on the best of terms, especially after dropping an interception in Super Bowl 42 against the Giants that would have clinched New England’s fourth title of the decade, but he did win two rings and picked off 22 passes in five years for New England, including 10 in 2006.  Samuel had opposing quarterbacks consistently trying to take advantage of Samuel’s hyper-aggressive play, but were unable to do so.  Here’s to hoping Devin McCourty emerges as the next shut down corner in New England.

6 Vince Wilfork: Big Vince has been with the Patriots for seven years now and has already won one ring, has been to two Super Bowls, and has made three Pro Bowls.  Running up the middle is not a viable option for many teams against New England, as the big fella sits tough.  Wilfork is a cog in the 3-4 system, and is arguably one of the best nose tackles New England has ever had, if not the best.

5 Richard Seymour: What has happened to New England’s pass rush since the trade of Seymour should be answer enough to how important and effective Seymour was for the Patriots.  He spent eight years with New England and won three Super Bowls, as well as racked up 39 sacks for the Patriots, including pressuring the quarterback into poor throws on countless occasions.

4 Matt Light: Light played in four Super Bowls with New England (to this point), while protecting the blind side of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play professional football.  Given the importance of the pass rush teams have placed on defenses over the past decade, Light’s job became harder and harder with the players he had to guard annually, and he did so in an exceptional manner, making three pro-bowls and one first team all-pro at left tackle.

3 Tedy Bruschi: Bruschi was long a staple of the New England defense, manning the inside of the linebacker corps for 13 years, a long time for any football player, let alone a linebacker.  One of my favorite Bruschi stats was having intercepted four consecutive passes and having brought them all back for touchdowns from 2002 to 2003.  Hardly a sack artist, Bruschi was the epitome of tough.  It seemed like he never made a poor play and rarely missed a tackle, something we see all too much of in today’s NFL, where wrapping up is an afterthought.  If Bruschi got to a ball carrier, that ball carrier was going down.  Bruschi overcame a stroke and a hole in his hear to win the Comeback Player of the Year in 2005 after it looked like his career was over and won three Super Bowls with New England.

2 Willie McGinest: Willie played with the Patriots for six years this century, making his mark with three Super Bowl victories.  He racked up 38.5 sacks from his outside linebacker spot in those six years, and his presence was sorely missed after he left, with New England still unable to rush the passer effectively.

1 Tom Brady: There really should be no argument here.  Brady took New England to three Super Bowl titles in four tries, including beating the 14-point favored “Greatest Show On Turf” in his first year as a starter after replacing the injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001.  Brady is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and holds the record for touchdown passes in a season with an even 50 in 2007.  In his time with New England this century, he has amassed a 111-32 record as a starter with 261 touchdown passes.  Keep in mind that’s all with having missed the entire 2008 season after suffering a catastrophic knee injury in the first quarter of the season opener against Kansas City.  Brady also happens to be a two-time NFL and Super Bowl MVP.  We may never see another quarterback even remotely close to Brady in New England in our lifetimes, so enjoy him while you still can.

Lindberg: New England Patriots Draft Grade

How much will Nate Solder impact the New England Patriots in the future?

By Andy Lindberg 

I feel like I should be yet another tool to give out a draft grade.  Therefore I will grade the Patriots. I have been watching the Patriots since I moved to Connecticut from Alabama in 1992. (Side note, I HATE how the New York Jets drafted Alabama’s former quarterback, Greg McElroy. That made me sad).

I love football, but what the NFL draft has become, a spectacle after the meat-market that is the televised NFL scouting combine, is a flash and flare party which sees men who have never taken a snap in the National Football League take their first steps toward garnering $40 million signing bonus’ who later turn out to be the next Ryan Leaf.

In short, it upsets me. It is unnecessarily exhibited and covered by men who can’t seem to do anything but yell at me over the television screen. I understand the player has great “football smarts,” but you’ve yelled it at me for the past eight picks.  It’s a wonder any of these players ever fails. So “tool upon tool” is screaming letter grades at me like these teams just took an exam. I will be joining the ranks of them, providing you a letter grade at the end of this and oh, by the way, I’m sorry in advance for my weakness.

That said the draft is a necessity for the business of building a football team.  There are a lot of teams who drafted well because they drafted needs. The Patriots last year had an exceptional draft, fixing gaping holes at the tight end and defensive back positions. This past season, both improved exponentially (especially at tight end) and the only glaring hole was the need for a pass rusher and offensive line help.  Before I begin let it be known that even though I may like some of the players New England drafted (as made obvious with my pick by pick coverage) that does not mean I feel they were smart picks in some cases.

The Patriots’ first pick was offensive tackle Nate Solder from Colorado. Given the futures of Matt Light and Logan Mankins with the team, this was a very good pick.  However after that, New England’s draft went downhill. They did nothing at all to address the pass rush, even with several on the board.

With the first overall pick of the second round, they drafted Ras-I Dowling, a cornerback from Virginia. I liked this pick because I thought New England could still add good pass rush depth later in the second round, given the talent still out there.  Even with Leigh Bodden coming back, Dowling could provide very capable help at the lower end of the depth chart in his first year, and could prove to be a very valuable special-teamer immediately.

Will the former Patriots running back core be effected by the 2011 NFL Draft?

After that it got bad. The Patriots drafted two running backs in a row even though BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a fantastic year and Danny Woodhead took over the Kevin Faulk role. Yes, New England needed a little more depth at that position, but one of those picks (preferably the earlier, Shane Vereen pick) should have been a pass-rusher.

Picking Ryan Mallett was a great selection, as I believe New England got a steal.  Mallett could also prove to be great trade bait in a few years if Tom Brady is still racking up great numbers. A guy like Mallett won’t sit as a backup for long, not with his potential.

In the fifth round New England drafted TCU’s Marcus Cannon, an offensive lineman who dropped to round five because of a very recent cancer diagnosis. His prognosis is excellent, and doctors anticipate a recovery very soon. If he can play up to his potential in a year or two, he will have been a good steal.

The Patriots finished the draft with Markell Carter, an outside linebacker from Central Arkansas and Malcolm Williams, a defensive back from TCU. Size-wise, Carter fits the profile of the type of linebacker New England loves. I hope he proves to be a fantastic player down the road, but for now, he’s simply a sixth round pick.

The Patriots had a need, and did not address it, even with all the available needs.  They added more picks for next year via trades, but the time for stockpiling picks is over. This year it was time to cash in and the Patriots didn’t do it. More than likely one of those running back picks is going to turn out to be a wasted pick. There’s only so much playing time for a running back with Ellis and Woodhead playing. There was no reason not to pick a pass rusher in that situation.

I used to give the Pats the benefit of the doubt, but for the past few years, one of the needs has been the same and New England has done little to address it. New York’s Mark Sanchez kept his jersey very clean during the playoff matchup with New England and that’s ultimately what ended up costing Tom Brady and Co. another shot at a title. If the Patriots cannot get to the quarterback, no regular season record is going to change the fact that in the playoffs, they’re going to get burned.

Patriots draft grade (according to me, who’s opinion really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but here at Noontime Sports it does): C

An average grade for an average draft.

I still love them, though. Go Pats!

NFL Draft 2011: New England Patriots Select Solder, 17th Overall

By Andy Lindberg 

The New England Patriots selected offensive tackle Nate Solder in the first round  of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 17th pick. Here is some more information on the newest member of the Patriots organization.  

Name: Nate Solder

College: Colorado

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 319 lbs

Overview: Solder is far from what many would consider a sexy pick. He’s no Robert Quinn or Mark Ingram in terms of name value, but what he can bring to the team is extremely valuable with the future of left tackle Matt Light and left guard Logan Mankins up in the air. Tom Brady needs protection and Solder has the potential to protect Brady’s blind side immediately.

This is a great pick for New England, but they still need to address the pass rush and receiving corps. There should be great value to be had with the Pats having as many picks as they do in the second and third rounds. Bill Belichick has a very good history of finding offensive line gems in the first round, and I expect Solder to be no different.  One also wonders about New England’s confidence in re-signing Light or Mankins with this pick.