Will Pats have a hold on Giants pass rush?

654388.jpg

Will Pats have a hold on Giants pass rush?

INDIANAPOLIS - How can the New England Patriots slow down the New York Giants pass rush?Holding. On Friday night, I ran into Tim Ryan, co-host of "Movin' The Chains" on SIRIUS XM NFL Radio along with Pat Kirwan. As we talked about the Giants pass rush, he started dropping some eye-popping stats. In the two Conference Champioship games, there was one holding penalty called on a pass play. In the entire playoffs - 792 passing attempts and 10 games - there have been nine holding penalties. Four of those were against the Giants, according to Ryan. Referring to the backup quarterbacks for the Patriots and Giants, Ryan asked me, "You think the NFL wants Brian Hoyer and David Carr in the game Sunday?"Bill Belichick has long subscribed to the theory that you "do business as business is being done."And if the NFL has willingly turned a blind eye to holding in these playoffs, why wouldn't the Patriots try to do business that way until they are penalized? Think about past Super Bowls and the number of blatant holds that were let go. If there's one penalty that's allowed to slide, it's holding. The Super Bowl XLVI officials are an all-star crew led by referee John Parry. My friend Mike Sando from ESPN.com did a breakdown of Parry's penalty calls in 2011 prior to the NFC Championship. Parry's crew called 53 holds this season - third-highest in the NFL. You can take a look at where Parry's regular-season crew checked in on all the penalties. Might as well bring this up, too. Parry was the referee in 2007 when the Patriots beat the Colts 24-20 despite a franchise-record 10 penalties for 146 yards against them. I was working for NBCSports.com at the time and, after watching the game a second time, found eightofficiating mistakes that went against New England. The accounting from that game:1. Two officials with an unimpeded view of the play rule Colts receiver Aaron Moorehead in bounds on a first-quarter reception even though his left foot landed entirely out of bounds.

2. A neutral-zone infraction on the Patriots in the first quarter that gave the Colts a first down on third-and-2. Two Patriots flinched at the same time and readjusted while a Colts offensive lineman jumped. It didnt appear either got into the neutral zone.

3. Colts' tight end Dallas Clark hauling down Patriots safety Rodney Harrison in the end zone, preventing a chance at an interception.

4. An inadvertent flag on New England for having offensive lineman Russ Hochstein lined up as an eligible receiver despite the fact the announcement was made before the play that Hochstein was eligible.

5. A 40-yard pass interference penalty on Patriots corner Ellis Hobbs despite his picture-perfect coverage against Reggie Wayne.

6. A defensive holding (or pass interference) non-call on Colts linebacker Gary Brackett as he covered New England running back Kevin Faulk.

7. A phantom offensive pass interference call on Patriots' receiver Randy Moss inside the Colts 10.

8. A block in the back by Colts wide receiver Moorehead on Patriot Rashad Baker during Joseph Addais 73-yard touchdown reception.

So Parry owes the Pats one. Or eight.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

red_sox_bill_lee_052416.jpg

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former Major League Baseball player is running for governor in Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union party, which bills itself as nonviolent and socialist.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells WCAX-TV voters will "need umbrellas" if he's elected, because "it's going to be raining dollars," referring to money trickling down from the wealthy.

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lee says he's a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker." He supports legalizing marijuana, a single-payer health care system and paid family leave.

Haggerty: Miller signing more of same head-scratching stuff from Bruins

6snc20524161464129602343_3450k_1280x720_692161603908.jpg

Haggerty: Miller signing more of same head-scratching stuff from Bruins

It’s more than a year into the Cam Neely/Don Sweeney partnership running hockey operations for the Boston Bruins, and it’s still incredibly difficult to decipher what their master plan is for turning around the downtrodden franchise.

The Bruins are badly in need of something special to sell to their fan base, and a four-year contract for Kevan Miller is most definitely not “It.”

The latest chapter in the sagging saga of the Black and Gold is the aforementioned four-year, $10 million contract extension for Kevan Miller signed on Tuesday with little clear reason for the urgency to get something done with the soon-to-be 29-year-old defenseman. There’s no doubt the Bruins will say Miller could have pulled that kind of contract offer had he gone to the open market, and Sweeney should have let him walk –and let another team overpay for him -- had that happened.

One also can’t blame the hard-working, no-nonsense Miller for being pumped about the contract that fell into his lap.

“It’s the team I started with, whether it was in Providence and then back to Boston, the organization I started with. I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone,” said Miller. “That was one of the big key factors of me making my decision is I really love the city. I love the fans. Like I said in my statement, we have the best fans in the league and they’re great to play for. The whole experience so far has just been great. I’m looking forward to four more years of that for sure.”

The immediate negatives are there for Miller after signing the deal: he’s been injury-prone throughout his NHL career, he really hasn’t proven he can be consistently effective against the other team’s best players and he does very little to solve Boston’s puck-moving problems.

There’s a lot of redundancy with Adam McQuaid on a number of different fronts when it comes to Miller and an alarming lack of proven puck-moving defenseman in general beyond Krug at the top of the B’s priority list.

If the undrafted former UVM standout can hold it together as a top-4 defenseman then the Bruins will have decent value for a limited player in Miller, but he could just as quickly, and perhaps even more quickly, develop into another overpaid member of the B’s if he settles into the bottom-pairing role that seems to be his NHL future.

The deal leaves the Bruins with Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Miller and Adam McQuaid as the four defensemen signed through the next two seasons, and features a pair of bottom-pairing D-men in Miller and McQuaid taking up a combined $5.25 million in salary cap space over the next three seasons. That means the Bruins have to move somebody from their aforementioned quarter of signed blueliners, and the Miller contract already has the Bruins backed into a corner before Don Sweeney and Co. even line up their other moves.

That’s the exact same problem that cropped up at the draft in Florida last summer when Sweeney executed a flurry of eyebrow-raising moves to ship Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic out, and then failed to execute when trying to move up for Noah Hanifin as Hamilton’s replacement. It would be an epic Black and Gold trainwreck if Sweeney makes the same mistake two years in a row in failing to land the big move, but it would be of Boston’s own doing.

It’s Roster-Building 101 in the NHL that a team takes care of their big ticket items first during the season, and then moves on to the complimentary and secondary pieces that backfill the roster. Sweeney is doing just the opposite here after tying up $2.5 million per year on Miller, and doing so before he’s even secured a top pairing defenseman or top line right wing on their summer shopping list.

It’s the same kind of thing departed GM Peter Chiarelli did for years in Boston after winning the Stanley Cup, and the very issue that Cam Neely, Charlie Jacobs and Jeremy Jacobs threw their old GM under the bus for during last month’s end-of-season press conference. The multi-year contracts for Jimmy Hayes, McQuaid and Miller over the last two seasons are overly generous deals with too much term for limited players easily replaced by young, cheap players on entry level deals.

There's really no difference between them, and the contracts of Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg that were previously cited so consistently as cap-busting deals. 

It also leaves the Bruins in a tough position with restricted free agent Torey Krug, who they’re going to have to now pay double what they gave to Miller ($5 million per season) if they hope to actually re-sign last year’s No. 2 defenseman. The bigger problem: retaining all these back end players after the B's finished 19th in the league in defense last season is asking, or more accurately begging, for more of the same problems that pushed Boston out of the playoff picture two years running.

It’s too bad the Miller contract has drawn a firestorm of Bruins criticism this week: the rugged blueiner is a good, tough competitor that’s developed into a responsible young leader on the team, and he can make opponents pay a physical price when healthy.

Miller has also been an impressive plus-55 over his three NHL seasons in Boston while at least becoming respectable in the offensive zone, and posted a career-best five goals and 18 points with the B’s last season.

This example of contractual largesse to a low-ceiling player in Miller, however, is exactly the kind of thing that landed the Bruins in cap jail in the first place, and also the very thing Neely and Jacobs claimed they were getting away from after firing Chiarelli a little over a year ago.

It sure feels like it’s the same old gaffes over and over again rather than some fancy new Black and Gold plan to reinvigorate things on Causeway Street, doesn’t it?