Boston Red Sox

Curran: Belichick's dark cloud has lifted


Curran: Belichick's dark cloud has lifted

INDIANAPOLIS - Wait, help me out. Fourth-and-2 is in play? We can mention that with impunity and make it a punch line?
Because Ive heard some things.I remember back in 2001 when Bill Belichick looked at the assembled media in the soon-to-be-euthanized Foxboro Stadium and said, The strength of the wolf is in the pack.I remember the night before Super Bowl XXXVI when I sat in a Holiday Inn near the French Quarter and Bill Belichick told me by telephone, The hay is in the barn, and that he felt as confident before playing the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl the next day as he did the week previous when his team upset the Steelers in the AFC Championship.Back then the Patriots were upstarts. Lightly taken and soon to be dismissed.Except Belichick didnt believe that. Earlier in the season he noted in the wolf statement that the 2001 team was better than the sum of its unimpressive parts.But back then, the Patriots were just another upstart team on a hot streak. Still, to Belichick and his players Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Ty Law, Tom Brady, Lawyer Milloy, Roman Phifer, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri and so many others on that team there was something special afoot.Belichick didnt believe the Patriots would be overwhelmed by the Rams in the Super Bowl when the dynasty that he and Tom Brady (and a whole lot of others) created was still in the birth canal.He gave off an air in the first week of February 2001 as the Patriots approached their first Super Bowl with Belichick as head coach that said, Were going to be fine.They were. And they continued to be through the first decade of the 21st century. Two more Super Bowl wins. An NFL record 21-game winning streak. Legitimacy as a team that needed to be included in the all-time greatest discussions with the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the Niners of the '80s and '90s, and the Cowboys of the '90s.The tenor and expectations changed after 2001. A team and program as good as the one Belichick spawned in New England went from Cinderella to supermodel.But as the stakes were raised, Belichick got progressively more circumspect.By February 2008 the last time the Patriots played in a Super Bowl Belichick had become more guarded.They were the hunted. They had been every other franchises quarry for several years, but the scrutiny and the judgmental nature of the media -- which was bent on chip, chip, chipping away at the foundation of everything Belichick, his players and his staff had built -- wore him down.The AFC Championship loss to the Colts after the 2006 season sent Belichick into a funk and the team set about making sure it never happened again. With two masterstrokes, the Patriots acquired Randy Moss and Wes Welker. They also added Donte Stallworth and Adalius Thomas.They went unbeaten in the regular season in 2007, but it was a joyless march to perfection with the specter of a videotaping scandal taking on a life of its own. The desire of a football-obsessed nation to see the beloved franchise of 2001 get its comeuppance for its real and perceived arrogance was rampant.The Patriots became a franchise detested. And Belichick became a villain. The tightness of the Patriots under Belichicks grip seemed to cause the team to fear failure more than it embraced success.But something interesting has happened since. The 2008 Patriots overachieved with Matt Cassel at quarterback, winning 11 games. The 2009 Patriots a chemistry disaster failed. The 2010 Patriots overachieved again, winning 14 regular-season games before a loss which sent Belichick into an even deeper funk.Now comes 2011. And a Patriots team thats been pockmarked by defensive flaws still found a way to go 13-3 and emerge as AFC Champions.Even though the Patriots had a better regular-season record than their NFC counterparts the Giants, Big Blue despite its 9-7 regular-season record has emerged as the favorite (even if Vegas still says otherwise).With that backdrop, Bill Belichick has especially in the past few weeks seemed to find some measure of balance. Hes lightening up.On Sunday in Indianapolis, Belichick made a punchine of the game back in 2009 when a flawed Patriots team peed away a win in Indianapolis.A reminder: Belichick, feeling his offense could close out a win against the Colts and not trusting his defense to stop Peyton Manning, opted to run a play on fourth-and-2 from his own 28. A pass to Kevin Faulk failed. The Colts answered with a touchdown. New England lost, 35-34.Weeks of second-guessing ensued, colored by a belief that Belichick was arrogant to take the gamble.Sunday, Belichick laughed about a game that previously tore him apart, saying, I never had too much hospitality (in Indianapolis) until I went for it on fourth-and-2 and since then, Ive been greeted in a lot more friendly manner than I have in the past.A minor thing in the grand scheme but, for Belichick, a willingness to show that life does indeed go on was a benchmark moment.Welker was asked about Belichicks mood this season. Is he more kicked back?We wonder about that all of the time, said Welker. I dont know if its a lady in his life or what the deal is, but he definitely smiles a little more than he used to.Belichick will never be confused for Dave Chappelle. But the fact he can joke about a bleak point in his Patriots history is an example that life does indeed go on.This season isnt reminiscent of 2007, when an unstoppable team was stopped by the Giants. This time, the Patriots are the upstarts, never mind what Vegas or regular-season records say.And Bill Belichick is willing to let his team embrace that. To lighten up. And to see once again if the strength of the wolf in the pack.

Source: Despite addition of Nunez, Sox plan to keep Devers on roster

Source: Despite addition of Nunez, Sox plan to keep Devers on roster

BOSTON — Eduardo Nunez is expected to be activated Friday night, but he doesn't have third base all to himself. Rookie Rafael Devers is not going to be sent to the minors to make room, a baseball source told CSNNE on Friday.

The Red Sox announced a roster move for David Price, who went to the disabled list with left elbow inflammation. But the corresponding move to activate Nunez, whom the Red Sox acquired from the Giants in a trade for two minor leaguers, wasn't immediately clear. 

If there's no health situation at play and no one lands on the disabled list, Deven Marrero could be the odd man out.

Giardi: Two more picks for Jimmy G., but . . .

Giardi: Two more picks for Jimmy G., but . . .

FOXBORO -- The tweets stacked up on your timeline right around 12:30 this afternoon. Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions -- again.

What the 140 characters didn’t tell you was how they happened, or why.

The first was a wounded duck that had very little chance of success, save for the fact that Justin Coleman completely impeded Chris Hogan’s ability to compete for the ball (read: defensive pass interference). Safety Jordan Richards poached the ball as it fluttered to earth and the media tent started chirping.

The second came two throws later. Garoppolo zipped a ball to the back hip/shoulder of Devin Lucien in the end zone. Lucien initially had it, but a diving Eric Rowe ripped it from his hands for Rowe’s second pick of Garoppolo in two days.

“Whenever you throw an interception, whether it’s your testing someone out and giving a guy a chance, you never want to throw an int in the first place,” said Garoppolo after practice today.

Those INTs came on the heels of two interceptions yesterday. The first -- snagged by Richards -- was almost certainly a ball Garoppolo would never have thrown in a real game. That's a point that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have hammered over and over in the last 17 years, that these day in late July and August, are a time for testing both yourself and your teammates.

“You always try to do the right thing in practice, but practice is also that time, especially in training camp,” noted Garoppolo, “ to try to give an opportunity to who you maybe wouldn’t in the regular season. It’s a time to gain trust in your teammates and give a guy an opportunity.”

Lucien had that opportunity today and had it wrestled away from him. Note taken and file saved. Maybe next time, Garoppolo -- or Brady, or Jacoby Brissett -- go a different direction. Or they hammer the point home.