Lucchino: 'It's a new chapter beginning today'


Lucchino: 'It's a new chapter beginning today'

FORT MYERS, Fla. Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and presidentCEO Larry Lucchino met with their players today before the start of the first official full-squad workout.

It was setting the tone of 2012, Lucchino said. It was a customary Opening Day meeting.

I would say that we talked about how proud we are to be involved with this organization, said Werner. They should feel proud that we have great fans and this is going to be a new chapter. I think we didnt spend too much time talking about 2011. Its a new chapter. We have a new spring training ballpark. Our fans are excited about this year. And I certainly think our players are motivated to play post-season baseball.

After the team went 7-20 in September to miss out on post-season baseball for the second consecutive season, with post-season reports of unseemly clubhouse behavior during the season, Lucchino was asked if he expected the team to be more focused in 2012.

That suggests that they were not focused last season, Lucchino said. So I dont subscribe to that notion as a generalization about the season. But looking forward to 2012, I do expect this team will be focused, highly motivated.

But, with all that happened at the end of the season and after, does the organization have an image problem?

I wouldn't put in those terms, Lucchino said. But I would say we feel collectively that we have something to prove in 2012. I think the players feel that way. I think our managers and coaches feel that way. I know general manager Ben Cherington and our baseball office feel that way. And I can say ownership feels that way as well.

We said that we accept our share of the responsibility for perhaps not having a more open-door policy, Werner said. I think we'll be more present this year. But in the end, I do think more has been written about this than the state of the union, so we're moving on. This is a new chapter. We've accepted some collective and individual responsibility.

I think they said enough, Henry said. I agree with what both Larry and Tom said.

It's a new chapter beginning today, said Lucchino. For us, we think of this as the beginning. The first day of the 2012 season is today. When we have this meeting, when everybody's in camp and we go to work as a unit and our idea is let's write this new chapter and enough has been said about the last chapter.

Henry asked if he is more focused on his Liverpool soccer team than the Red Sox.

It's difficult because I'm not here today, Henry said in jest. I'm somewhere else. If I were here today, I'd say this is about baseball. Today is about baseball. With us, every day is about baseball. We have other things, too. But every day, pretty much, I think we speak 365 days a year, maybe 364. But virtually every day there's something related to baseball.

Henry was then asked if he is more focused on baseball recently or if he has pulled back.

I think that it's been more recently than it has for a while because there's been more to attend to, he said. There's been a lot of changes.

But the Red Sox have not been to the playoffs since 2009, when they were swept in the ALDS by the Angels, and have not won a post-season series since the 2008 ALDS.

I'm not concerned about the direction of the organization, Henry said. I think we have the right direction. I've heard the term new chapter. I sort of felt like it's the next chapter. There's a real excitement here in camp. It's palpable. It's not just a new facility. There's a real excitement to be back at it again. I'm extremely happy with the leadership of this organization and the product we're going to have on the playing field and with the general attitude and atmosphere at the events this morning.

Asked if he would be more involved, Henry replied:

We're always involved. But there's been more to do. I think one of the things that we've done over the years is try to let your general manager do his job. You let the CEO do his job because they're qualified to do their jobs as managers. In that regard, there's not a lot to do. But when you're making changes along those lines, there's a lot to do.

Asked if his presence would make a difference, Henry replied:

I don't think it makes a difference for the players, really. I think what happens on the field, what happens when we were on our way to 100 wins or what happened in September, they're not thinking about 'Well, what's going on with ownership? where are they?' We're there. They see us. We're at every home game.

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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Curran: End result vs. Steelers justifies Patriots 'bend but don't break' defense

Curran: End result vs. Steelers justifies Patriots 'bend but don't break' defense

PITTSBURGH – “This game isn’t about numbers,” said Rob Ninkovich. “Everyone thinks about sacks and all these things as huge markers for success but there are a lot of teams with a lot of sacks that aren’t winning. I’ll take the wins over the sacks any day.”

It was another win on Sunday for the Patriots – 27-16 over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. There were no sacks. There was no chaos, no befuddled young backup quarterback flushed and addled by a complex defense. In fact, Landry Jones looked real comfortable back there in throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown.

Like Carson Palmer lighting it up late or Ryan Tannehill throwing for 387 or Tyrod Taylor converting third downs with impunity, Jones on Sunday continued a trend of quarterbacks looking pretty good against a very talented defense that – nonetheless – walked away with a comfortable win.


The Patriots have allowed 107 points – the fewest in the AFC and fewer than all but three teams in the NFC and all three of those have played one fewer game.

But it’s hard to escape the feeling that they’re playing it too close to the bone.

Except, maybe, Bill Belichick who once said quite plainly, “Stats are for losers.”

Not all stats though. We hear it often – three stats matter more than the rest: red zone defense, turnovers and third-down efficiency.

And if you look at those numbers for the Patriots defense, they were all fairly gaudy.

Pittsburgh was in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

The Patriots yield yards but not points. And that’s by design, said Ninkovich.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” said the veteran defensive end. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). (Antonio Brown) can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like (Landry Jones) to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

The Patriots rushed three or four most of the game. When they ran a corner blitz with Malcolm Butler, he didn’t get home and Jones hit Bell for a decent gain.  

“You can’t just pin your ears back because that’s when you get in trouble,” Ninkovich explained. “And then next week, there’s a guy (Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor) who can move in the pocket so that’s another whole type of defense you run with a mobile quarterback.”

Last season’s game at Buffalo is a good example of why Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia don’t like the feeding frenzy approach to defense. New England had the game in hand, 37-13 entering the fourth. And then, with everyone wanting to get in on the rush, Buffalo scored 19 in the fourth quarter with Taylor breaking contain and making plays with his feet.

After that game (and really, for most of Belichick’s tenure here), the Patriots were more interested in seeing what a quarterback could do in terms of stringing plays together.

The Patriots like their chances in that realm.

“It’s 1-on-1 matchups, guys making plays on third down and in the red area,” said safety Devin McCourty. “Guys are gonna make great catches every once in a while. Guys are gonna make great throws. You gotta live with that. They’re in the NFL too. But if we’re consistent with how we’re playing we’ll make enough plays to do well.”

They certainly do that.  As unpleasant as it seemed when the Steelers made it 14-13 (and had skewered themselves in the first half with a missed field goal, an end zone pick and a hold that wiped out a touchdown), the Patriots walked out with another double-digit win.

It felt like the butt-kicking could have been more thorough, though.

How does McCourty think Bill Belichick, film critic, will view the performance?

“Honestly, you never know,” McCourty said. “There’s times we leave the field feeling like we played terrible and (Belichick says), ‘You fix a couple things and we’ll be all right.’ And there’s times where you feel like you played well and we go in there and get ripped.

“The things Bill focuses on and what he expects out of our defense is what he (keys on) every week,” McCourty stressed. “No matter what the media says, no matter what the stats say. If we don’t give up any points but there’s three third downs where we give up the wrong leverage, that’s a problem. Monday afternoon (after film breakdown) is always a mystery.”

The results for the Patriots haven’t been (with the exception of the opener) cliffhangers. But the feeling persists that one of these weeks, this defense that plays a style daring the opposing quarterback to not shoot himself in the foot will go up against a quarterback that actually doesn’t.