Curran's Game Day Walkthrough


Curran's Game Day Walkthrough

The Bills were a vogue pick to turn the corner in 2012 and start a run of success. Now, with a 3-5 record that seems quite likely to be 3-6 by nightfall Sunday, the Buddy and Chan Show is entering its blue period. And that includes trying to determine if the quarterback sucks permanently or if he's salvageable.
One of my favorite columnists, Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News, puts Ryan Fitzpatrick in the crosshairs today. And that's only because Bills general manager Buddy Nix put Fitzpatrick there earlier in the week when Nix said of the quarterback decision, Let me be as honest as I can. I think we really need to address it this year."

I picture Buddy cleaning a shotgun as he says this and old Fitzy The Dog asleep at his feet, head resting on Buddy's shoes, unaware that the party is nearly over.

But Fitzpatrick knows that, despite his six-year, 59 million deal, the posse is closing in. Sullivan asked Fitzpatrick if he is playing for his future now.

I mean, I . . . I cant do that, he said. I cant go into a game and say, I need to play well or else. Im a guy that was a seventh-round pick. Ive waited for an opportunity for a long time, and now I have this opportunity.

I understand what happens in the NFL. I understand that its a performance-based business for quarterbacks. You have to win games or else. I understand all that. I appreciate this opportunity as much as anybody, because I had to wait a long time to get it."

The Bills as a team are in desperate straits and Nix has nudged Fitzpatrick out in front of the angry masses. And that's the dynamic the Bills bring in to Foxboro today.

The only college team that I believe could have legitimately beaten a professional team was the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin' Rebels basketball team. Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt, read this article to gain a little appreciation of them. But that's basketball. Five guys, the physical demands wholly different than football. I bring this up because there's been conversation about whether Alabama could beat an NFL team. They could not. They almost lost to LSU. Saturday, they did lose to Texas A&M. I really like this Alabama team and enjoy watching it, but the myriad pieces on a football team -- offense, defense, special teams -- and the strength and physics of the game at the NFL level would make it impossible for a college team to even be competitive with the worst NFL team.

Two good pieces in the Boston Globe today. Greg Bedard's highlighting of relevant excerpts in a new book called, "Coaching Confidential: Inside the Fraternity of NFL Coaches, by New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers. I'll let you read Bedard's summation but there is a lot here from Robert Kraft about his relationships with Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. There's a bit of spin from Kraft on the long-ago dustup with Parcells over draft pick Christian Peter that I'll delve into later this week.

The other is a sitdown between Shalise Manza-Young and Tom Brady delving into Brady's health so far this season (fit as a fiddle).

One other quick Brady-related note: that question about him dressing funny that I posed . . . it was at the end of the press conference and I really don't care how he dresses. And when I asked him later if he was offended, he said, "You know me better than that . . ."

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.