Belichick: No time to re-write the playbook

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Belichick: No time to re-write the playbook

FOXBORO -- In the words of Bill Belichick, Tuesday was a Friday at Gillette Stadium, as the Patriots deal with a short week and prepare for the New York Jets on Thursday night.

It makes sense. But it also means their preparation time is limited.

"It's about as quick as you can turn it around," said Belichick on Tuesday. "So, the Colts game's behind us. We're already right in the middle of the Jets preparations, and as we know, there's a lot to get ready for there."

So how do you cram it all in?

"We just review the situations," said Belichick. "These are the things we've seen them do, these are whatever happen to be their plays, their coverages, their blitzes. We talked about things that they like to do situationally, first down, second down, red area, kickoff return, kickoff coverage, those kind of things. And just consolidate it and boil it down. We were going to show 40 plays. Now, maybe we show them 10 or 15 in that particular situation this week. We just don't have the time."

Factoring into that shortened week of preparation is the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who broke his forearm on Sunday.

When asked how big of a loss Gronkowski is to the Patriots offense during this shortened week, Belichick was unsure as to how it would all play out.

"Other people are going to have to contribute," said Belichick. "We'll see how it goes. I don't know. We'll see how it goes."

Belichick then sounded confident in the way his offense runs as a whole, with or without any specific individual. But then again, he has to be confident in this offense. Because there's simply not enough time to re-write the script before Thursday night.

"We're not going to put in a whole new offense in a day and a half," said Belichick. "We may make some adjustments, but we've done what we've been doing for a while, and we've had some success with it. So, we'll find a way to continue to do the things that we know how to do, and if we have to make some adjustments, we'll make some. But we can't try to change everything in a couple days."

Whether that's a good thing or not for the Patriots, remains to be seen.

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

 

Pedroia returns

Dustin Pedroia (ribcage) was out of the initial Red Sox lineup on Friday but was later added. Farrell said in the afternoon that Pedroia would be available by emergency Fridayand expected to be back in the lineup Saturday, but clearly, something changed.

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities.