Brady's Pats look just like Niners of 80s and 90s

Brady's Pats look just like Niners of 80s and 90s

FOXBORO Before getting swamped by the Patriots Monday night, the Houston Texans described their game with New England as the biggest in franchise history.
 
After the game, Patriots guard Logan Mankins said, I know the team we play next week. Its not the biggest game in their franchise history.
 
Not by a long shot. Next up for the Patriots? The San Francisco 49ers.
 
While this years model of the Niners is still making strides to be an elite team, the storied history of the franchise remains fresh and nowhere does that history reverberate more strongly than in New England.
 
When owner Robert Kraft bought the Patriots in 1993, he made it clear the franchise he would emulate was the 49ers, the NFLs gold standard of the 80s and 90s.
 
If it isnt mission accomplished, its pretty close.
 
The Patriots are the most successful franchise of the 2000s with five Super Bowl appearances in 12 seasons, three Super Bowl titles, a perfect regular season in 2007 and a Hall of Fame quarterbackhead coach combination in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  
 
The Niners, with their 5-0 Super Bowl record and 16 consecutive seasons of 10-or-more wins from 1983 to 1998 are the only team New England is chasing when it comes to sustained, unstinting excellence over more than a decade. The win over Houston brought the Patriots to 10 consecutive 10-win seasons.
 
In the Super Bowl Era, not even the Steelers were able to sustain the same level season after season for as long as the Niners did and the Patriots have.
 
Throw in the personal.
 
Tom Brady, grew up in San Mateo, California, went to the 1981 NFC Championship game where Dwight Clark made The Catch, idolized Joe Montana and is now mentioned in the same breath as Montana as perhaps the greatest ever.
 
Bill Belichicks coaching idol, Paul Brown, was the man under whom Bill Walsh learned what became the West Coast offense. And Belichicks Giant defenses banged helmets for NFC supremacy with Walshs Niners for a decade in the 80s.
 
Contemporary linkage? The 2012 Niners executed a quarterback switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick that hearkens back just a little to the switch Belichick made from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady in 2001. There are some differences Bledsoe was the Patriots franchise hood ornament while the Niners have been gearing up to replace Smith for years; Brady proved over several games to be better than Bledsoe, while Kaepernick made his bones in practice and cameos. But the comparison mostly stands.
 
Yet all that is window dressing to a game that could be could be a prelude to another meeting in New Orleans in early February.
 
The Patriots are in the midst of their annual December crescendo. Theyve won seven straight games and the three blemishes on their 10-3 record came by a total of four points.
 
The Niners are 5-1-1 over their last seven and are in the midst of a crushing late-season schedule that has them on the road for four out of five games.
 
Both teams are the No. 2 seed in their respective conferences. Both have designs on getting home field for the playoffs. Neither can afford to stub their toe down the stretch and miss out on a first-round bye.
 
Its a short week for us; we dont know them very well, Belichick said Wednesday. We havent played them in quite awhile and theyve made a lot of changes since the last time we did play them. We really have to do a good job of trying to catch up preparation-wise this week. Hopefully we can do that, but these guys do a lot of things well.
 
Having Brady, whos in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, helps New England make up the stagger a little bit.
 
Brady said Wednesday he began working on San Francisco on Thanksgiving night after a 49-19 prime-time win over the Jets.
 
Harbaugh was asked how hed slow Brady down.
 
Well, we'd sure like to find the answer to that and then implement it, he confessed. But it is really difficult. They're tough to do that against. They have a really good scheme, really good play calling, and then great individual effort at each position. The great ability that they have to play as a team. We could talk for hours about how good they are."
 
The Niners, meanwhile, remain an impressive work in progress. Kaepernicks been the anointed starter for four games. He brings a dimension to their offense that former starter Alex Smith didnt the ability to threaten a defense in multiple ways and create but hes an NFL embryo compared to someone like Brady.
 
Context? Kaepernicks thrown 134 passes in the NFL. Bradys thrown 6,609. Including playoffs.
 
So on Sunday night, the former gold standard will face the current gold standard. And it may not be for the last time.

Patriots waive Stork after trade with Redskins falls through

Patriots waive Stork after trade with Redskins falls through

It's been a wild week for Bryan Stork. 

On Wednesday, news broke that Stork had been informed of his release. Then before that move became official, the Patriots and Redskins worked out a trade to send the third-year center to Washington. After that, indications were that Stork was retiring, and the Redskins were unsure as to whether or not he would even report.  He eventually decided to report, but ended up failing his physical, voiding the trade. 

Monday, Stork was returned to the Patriots, but the team has announced that they've waived the veteran center.

More to come...

 

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

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After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

BOSTON - For a bullpen that could use all the help it can get right now, there's the prospect that Koji Uehara could rejoin the Red Sox on Labor Day.

Uehara, who's been out since July 20 with a strained pectoral muscle, threw a bullpen Monday at Fenway that impressed John Farrell.

"He came out of today's work session in good fashion,'' said Farrell. "It was 25 pitches to hitters with good intensity to both his fastball and split. It's been impressive to see how he's handled the volume, and now, three times on the mound, the intensity to his bullpens and BP.''

Next up for Uehara will be a bullpen session Wednesday morning, followed by a live batting practice session Saturday in Oakland.

Since both Pawtucket's and Portland's seasons are over on Labor Day, Uehara won't have the option of going on a rehab assignment to face hitters before being activated.

But the Sox believe that he can build arm strength through these side sessions and BP sessions -- enough so that he could return to the active roster soon.

"We'll re-assess where is after Sunday,'' said Farrell, "and I wouldn't rule out activation [after that]. What we've done with Koji is just review how he feels after each session and we'll take it from there.''

Uehara, 41, is 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, and while he's had a propensity for giving up homers (eight in just 36 innings), he had been throwing better before being injured.

And given the performance of the bullpen in general and the recent poor showings from Matt Barnes, the Sox would welcome Uehara back as soon as he's ready.

"The one thing that Koji has proven to us,'' noted Farrell, "is that, even with limited spring training work [in the past], he's been a very effective pitcher for us and obviously, he has a chance to make a very positive impact once he does return.''

Uehara's progress since late July has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox, who feared at the time of the injury that he might be done for the season.     

"To his credit,'' said Farrell, "he's worked his tail off and advanced fairly rapidly and he's withstanding the intensity that he's put into [the work]. A healthy Koji certainly adds to our bullpen.

 

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Maybe Tim Tebow could be the eighth-inning guy? 

OK, OK. Maybe not. Still, the Red Sox will be among the “roughly half” of the MLB teams who will attend the former Heisman Trophy winner and Patriots’ 2013 training camp phenomenon’s baseball tryout on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Tebow is 29 and hasn’t played organized baseball since he was a junior in high school. He was an All-State performer in Florida back then.

Based on his accuracy and mechanics throwing a football, maybe DH would suit Tebow better than the mound.