Curran: Haynesworth just another personnel whiff


Curran: Haynesworth just another personnel whiff

Almost two weeks ago, the Patriots heaved their highest-priced cornerback overboard two days before a critical AFC game. Leigh Bodden and his 4 million contract left and the Patriots lost to Pittsburgh.Two days after another Patriots loss, we have another release. Albert Haynesworth, pitched as a low-risk, high-upside acquisition at the end of July, is gone.
Albert's getting canned -- first reported by Ian Rapoport of The Boston Herald --comes less than a day after Bill Belichick's dubious claim that Haynesworth sat the final 24 minutes of Sunday's game because his spot in the rotation never came up. That was a crock. Haynesworth's final play as a Patriots was on a 10-yard Brandon Jacobs touchdown run on which Giants guard David Diehl got Haynesworth turned and -- instead of fighting the block -- Haynesworth tried to swim through it, making the hole for Jacobs to waddle through even larger. There are unconfirmed reports of Haynesworth and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson arguing intensely on the sideline after the play. That argument was said to have been quelled by Jerod Mayo and Bill Belichick. A source told me that, later in the half, Haynesworth approached Belichick to apparently further explain himself and Belichick dismissed him with a wave of his hand. If only Belichick were so easily able to wave away all the problems he's dealing with. The moves the Patriots have made since the end of the lockout have been blunderiffic. Acquiring Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis andChad Ochocinco -- nearly12 million worth of washed-up players. Then banishing Bodden, a move that brings the tally to 16 million. The Patriots released secondary players James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather and Darius Butler -- three guys who were far from All-Pro -- and still have found a way to get worse in pass defense. Go back a little further and see that two of their second-round picks from 2010, Jermaine Cunningham and Ron Brace, are on the field as much as you and I. See that their third-round pick, wideout Taylor Price has caught exactly two passes and played in three games in his career. The Patriots had another third-rounder to screw up in 2010, but they traded a third and a fifth to Oakland for pass-rusher Derrick Burgess. Burgess is now fishing somewhere in Mississippi. I'm sure the Kraft family is quite affluent, but wasting 16 million onnon-performing employees will cause an eyebrow to rise when it comes time to look at budgetary decisions. Haynesworth is far from the worst personnel move of the last few years. But his failure shines a light on the fact Belichick and his personnel caddies swung and missed so badly on what the team could expect from Haynesworth and do as a defense. He was supposed to be a 4-3 beast for the Patriots, buddied up inside with Vince Wilfork, crushing the pocket back in the face of the quarterback where Andre Carter and perhaps Cunningham would clean up with sacks. Hand in the dirt, go kill the quarterback and all that. None of it's really happened. The Patriots continue to be the league's worst defense. And Haynesworth was better than neither Kyle Love nor Gerard Warren. According to ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss, Haynesworth played 133 of 561 snapsin six games. He was inactive for two. He had six tackles. Messages to Haynesworth haven't been immediately responded to.

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”


Dombrowski, Red Sox making adjustments in wake of recent departures


Dombrowski, Red Sox making adjustments in wake of recent departures

In recent days and weeks, the Red Sox have lost their general manager, their vice president of amateur and international scouting, an assistant director of amateur scouting, a member of their analytics department and their mental skills coach.

But Dave Dombrowski, the team's president of baseball operations, insists that the team is not in danger of "brain drain.''

"No, not at all,'' said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in a conference call with reporters. "We've lost some good people, but it's also a situation where we have a lot of good people and I think when you have a good organization, if you're winning and you expose people to situations, (a certain amount of exodus) happens. I think the other part of it is that we're more than capable of filling some of those roles from an internal perspective. We've got some quality people and I think the thing that's great about it is, it allows people to grow.''

Dombrowski announced that, in the wake of the departure of Amiel Sawdaye, the former VP of amateur and international scouting who left Monday to become assistant GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Sox were promoting Eddie Romero, formerly the vice president of international scouting, to the position of senior vice president/ assistant GM.

Romero, the son of former Red Sox utility infielder Eddie Romero Sr. will help Dombrowski in personnel matters and player development, while Brian O'Halloran, who has the same title as Romero, will continue to handle administrative matters including salary arbitration and contactual negotiations.

After the departure of Mike Hazen, who left to become GM of the Diamondbacks last week, Dombrowski interviewed Sawdaye and Romero as Hazen's potential replacements before determining that neither had the necessary experience yet to become a major league GM.

Dombrowski said there would be additional internal promotions and adjustments to announce in the coming weeks. He added that senior advisors Frank Wren and Allard Baird, each former general managers, would see their responsibilities increase when it comes to conducting trade talks with other organizations.

Sawdaye's departure is one of several this off-season for the front office. Earlier this month, Steve Sanders, who had been the team's assistant director of amateur scouting, left to become director of amateur scouting for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Also, Tom Tippett, a longtime member of the team's statistical analysis staff, will leave soon too pursue other opportunities. The team recently informed mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury that his contact would not be renewed, according to the Boston Globe.

Dombrowski indicated that Laz Gutierrez would be promoted to take the place of Tewksbury.

In other news, Dombrowski revealed that the entire coaching staff -- hitting coach Chili Davis; assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez; first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr.; third base coach Brian Butterfield; bullpen coach Dana LeVangie; pitching coach Carl Willis; and bench coach Torey Lovullo -- had all agreed to return for 2017.

That, of course, is subject to change since Lovullo is believed to be a target of Hazen for Arizona's managerial vacancy.

Dombrowski said the Diamondbacks had yet to request permission to speak with Lovullo, though that may happen soon now that Hazen has hired Sawdaye to fill out his front office.

When Hazen was hired by the Diamondbacks, he was limited to hiring just one member of the Red Sox' Baseball Operations staff. But, Dombrowski added, that limit didn't apply to uniformed staff members such as Lovullo, who would be leaving for a promotion.