Boston Red Sox

Patriots defense ready for Luck to run


Patriots defense ready for Luck to run

FOXBORO -- Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck's numbers aren't all that eye-popping.

This year's No. 1 overall draft pick completes 57.5 percent of his passes. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 10-to-9. He's fumbled seven times. His quarterback rating is a ho-hum 79.1.

But the Patriots know he's better than the average rookie quarterback, and the tactics they may use to rattle other first-year signal-callers won't apply this week, according to linebacker Jerod Mayo.

"He's a good player," Mayo said of Luck. "He can run, do a lot of different things. He has a lot of different weapons, and he's a good player so it'll take 11 men to stop him."

Mayo said the Colts offense does some things similarly to the Steelers offenses of the past under interim head coach (former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator) Bruce Arians. But with Luck's ability to move around in the pocket and use his speed to pick up yardage when plays break down, it's a new look for New England.

Luck averages 4.7 yards every time he tucks it and runs, and he has rushed for five touchdowns this season. The only quarterback with more touchdown runs is this year's No. 2 overall pick, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (6).

"He's a great runner," Mayo said of Luck. "You look at his combine results and things like that, you can tell he can run the ball. At the same time, he can run and throw. So it'll be a difficult time to try to slow him down."

This will be the Patriots defense's second chance to stop a rookie quarterback this season. They lost to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 6, 24-23, when the Wisconsin product threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns, including a 46-yarder to receiver Sidney Rice with less than two minutes left in the fourth-quarter.

The Patriots will face a challenge to achieve a different result this time around. Luck's mostly mediocre numbers aside, the one that sticks out is the Colts record with him under center.

They're 6-3, just like the Patriots.

Drellich: Forget Red Sox resiliency or luck, banked wins are what matter

Drellich: Forget Red Sox resiliency or luck, banked wins are what matter

BOSTON — The minutiae starts to fade now. Steal a few wins, rattle off a gorgeous run when people didn’t expect you to — what should or shouldn’t happen doesn’t matter.

Are the Sox really this good? At a certain point, it’s irrelevant how many wins were lucky (Friday’s, arguably), or against bad teams (the White Sox), or anything else. Those victories are cinderblocks in the standings that the Yankees are will find increasingly difficult to budge.

There’s simply no challenging the value of banked wins, no eliminating them.

Look, you didn’t need Friday night’s 9-6 Red Sox win over the Yankees to realize the Sox are resilient. All of August has been a coming out party: for a pitching staff that’s making due without David Price, for an offense liberated by a 20-year-old third baseman who homered again Saturday, Rafael Devers, as the team adapts smoothly to the absence of Dustin Pedroia.

“We miss them,” Sox manager John Farrell said Saturday night. “There’s no question we miss those two guys, and [are] really looking forward to their return. But it speaks volume to the team we have, the depth and talent that’s here. 

“What Raffy has done by coming up, and Eduardo [Nunez’s] arrival here at the time when Pedey goes down, they’ve been instrumental in the way we’ve played. I don’t know if you want to call it the next-man-up mentality, but we have not skipped a beat and guys are beginning to flourish and shouldering a greater burden.”

But what, beyond this sense of resiliency, have you learned since the trade deadline? What can you tell about the Sox’ future from watching them reach a season-high 19 games over .500? 

That discussion is more complicated. The Sox are of the best anywhere, just as they were projected to be entering the year — albeit with some different personnel fulfilling those predictions. They’re just the second AL team to reach 70 wins.

Yet, it’s fair to wonder how many times a reliever like Tommy Kahnle — one of the Yankees’ significant trade additions — will let Mitch Moreland come through with a go-ahead hit on an 0-2 count in the seventh inning. 

It’s fair to wonder how many times Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly can fall into trouble without swing-and-miss stuff and be bailed out. Or how many times Farrell can keep holding back guys like Addison Reed, as the skipper did on Friday, until he really has no other choice — and be let off the hook for those choices.

The Red Sox are homer-happy right now, with multiple long balls for the 9th time in 14 games. Those home runs could be long overdue, or it could be a cluster and an aberration.

Again, those questions start to diminish in importance. Because in the same way we talk about time running out for Price’s return from injury, time also starts to run out for other teams.

There’s a cushion of five games in the AL East going into Saturday’s middle game of three with the Yankees, one of just four remaining head-to-head match-ups between the Sox and Yanks this season. The last time the Sox and Yankees were playing each other as the top two teams in the division this late in the year was 2011, a reminder of how quickly leads can dissipate. 

This isn’t a suggestion the Sox should be foolhardy, or have anything wrapped up. It’s a reminder that whether you believe Eduardo Nunez will keep up his .361 average down the stretch, or whether you find anything dubious about some of these Sox wins — they’re still in the bank, appreciating in value from now until October.


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Jaguars pursue Jimmy Garoppolo?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Jaguars pursue Jimmy Garoppolo?

0:43 - Drew Pomeranz left Friday’s Yankees game with back spasms. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still waiting for David Price to come back. Evan Drellich checks in from Fenway Park to talk about this bullpen situation. 

08:03 - Rookie defensive end Derek Rivers is out for the season with a torn ACL. Tom Giles, Tom Curran, Michael Holley and Phil Perry decide if it’s time for the Patriots to look elsewhere for backup.

13:38 - Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is not happy with the performance of his quarterbacks. Giles and Curran discuss whether Jimmy Garoppolo could end up in Jacksonville. 

18:15 - Holley and Curran take a look at the top free agents in the NBA right now and if the Celtics should be exploring any of them.