Patricia wary of desperate Miami offense


Patricia wary of desperate Miami offense

It's Week 13 and New England finally gets its first shot at the Dolphins. Unlike last season, when the Patriots opened the year against Miami and had 13 long weeks before the rematch, they will play this divisional rival twice in one month.

Does it matter at this point? Well, yes. A win on Sunday would punch New England's playoff ticket by virtue of divisional supremacy.

But the series may be even more important to the Dolphins. They are a deceptive 5-6. Their  playoff hopes are not only far from dead, but perhaps dangerously desperate. And they clash bitterly with New England's.

A split would be good for Miami; a sweep would be better.

The team's best shot, considering its 26th-ranked passing defense, may be putting up points. It's up to the Patriots coaching staff to prepare its players for Miami's bloodlust.

From the sounds of Tuesday's conference calls, that work has begun.

Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia raved about the opponents' various weapons, beginning with rookie signal caller Ryan Tannehill.

"Were talking about a guy that is very familiar with the offensive system that he is running right now," Patricia said. "It is a system that puts a lot of demand on the quarterback spot and I think hes doing an excellent job handling all of the different responsibilities of the system. Mike Sherman was his coach at Texas A&M University and he has a lot of experience running this system. I think hes doing a real good job."

So much so, Patricia rolled on.

"If you take a look at the Seattle game from this past weekend," he said, "him just taking a good command of the offense, making adjustments, making checks, getting the offense into the right particular play based on what hes looking at from a defensive perspective and trying to get them positive yardage on every play. I think hes doing an excellent job as far as handling the system; hes obviously familiar with it and does a real good job with it."

Dolphins running back Reggie Bush was also praised.

But Patricia wasn't just using a broad brush to paint platitudes all over New England's upcoming opponent; Bush is in Year Two of a career renaissance.

The former No. 2 overall pick in 2006's NFL draft underwhelmed in New Orleans for five seasons before finding a better fit in Miami. Bush has 662 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 11 games this year.

"Hes obviously an extremely talented player," Patricia said. "A guy that has a lot of ability in multiple facets of the offense and they do a good job of using him in many different positions whether its from the running back position or getting him out of the backfield on free-release type plays or just lining him up out of the backfield in empty-type situations where they can get the ball to him out in space and really take advantage of the matchup there."

The Patriots defense certainly shouldn't expect a breezy night in Florida.

There's just too much on the line for Miami.

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"


Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"


Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

NEW YORK -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:


* "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving." David Ortiz, unaccustomed to ovations and cheering at Yankee Stadium.

* "I thought he threw a high number of strikes. There was good swing-and-miss to his changeup and he took the opportunity and showed well." John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "It's just taking good swings in good counts. It's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose." Xander Bogaerts, who has tripled his homer output since last year.


* With his fourth-inning homer, Xander Bogaerts tripled his home run total from last year, improving from seven to 21.

* The season series between the Red Sox and Yankees ended with the Sox winning 11 of the 18 games.

* The Boston bullpen has given up eight runs in the last two nights after allowing only seven this month before Wednesday night.

* The Sox suffered only their second sweep of the season. They were also swept by the Tigers in July.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached base safely in his last 13 games.

* Junichi Tazawa has contributed seven straight scoreless outings.

* Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a season-high three walks -- all in the same inning.

* Henry Owens has a career ERA of 8.53 against the Yankees.

* David Ortiz went hitless (0-for-11) in his final series at Yankee Stadium.


1) CC Sabathia

Sabathia turned back the clock and looked like a far younger version of himself, pitching into the eighth and allowed just a run on four hits while striking out eighth.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury had a hand in the first Yankee run -- walk, stolen base, run scored -- and doubled home the second run in the fifth inning.

3) Xander Bogaerts

The Sox had little offense on the night, but Bogaerts smoked a solo homer in the fourth to account for their only run.