Week 1: The Aftermath

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Week 1: The Aftermath

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

I woke up Sunday morning at about 9:30 am. Got up, brushed my teeth, looked out the window and saw two dudes carrying a pair of 30 racks and mini-keg down my street.

Football season!

The significance of the games may increase every week, but in terms of pure fun, Week 1 of the NFL season ranks right up there with the first round of the NCAA tournament and the WNBA All-Star game as one of the greatest daylong spectacles in sports.

NFL Sundays are like a drug, and Week 1 is like a binge after eight months of sobriety. It hits you all at once, and you suddenly remember how you got hooked in the first place. Before Sunday, itd been eight long months since we had the pleasure to get blown away by Chris Johnson or stupefied by a Randy Moss press conference or gamble with the passion of Antoine Walker or become dangerously bipolar while following StatTracker.

It was all as glorious as I remember it. I loved every second. And over the course of the day I got at least 10 random texts messages from friends who were spending this Sunday doing the same thing as me: Just sitting on their couch, beaming over the fact that football's back.

Not those two guys from the morning, though. I'm pretty sure they were passed out by noon.

Anyway, here are a some quick thoughts on a few of Sundays biggest stories:

"Mr. Moss, the podium is yours."
I have no beef with what Randy Moss said after Sundays game. Could he have timed it a little better? Yeah, sure. But the question is, for whom? More than anyone, maybe himself, as Im sure that the front office wasnt thrilled, but who else really suffers from Moss postgame sideshow? One argument I heard was that the outburst took away from Wes Welkers heroic return. That Moss should have taken more time to praise his fellow receiver. OK, maybe that would have been nice, but in reality, do you think Welker cared even a little bit that he wasnt the focal point of that press conference? He was far more likely to be sitting at his locker, and feeling lucky to have a receiver like Moss out there with him every Sunday. And most of the other guys feel the same way.

Randy's been like this since he got here. You know what you're going to get. He's going to be crazy. He's going to dog it every once in a while. It won't always be smooth sailing. But at the end of the day, he always makes you a better team. He's still one of the best in the game. And that's why, despite all the baggage Moss brings, Tom Brady has still been so vocal about how badly he wants Moss back. It's because he understands his teammate. It's because he wants to win more than anything, and knows that Randy does, too. The Pats just need to accept that already. They have to, at the very least, open up a dialogue with the guy. Because as far as this team goes, it's not a matter of wanting Randy Moss. They need him.

Obviously, next weekend at the Meadowlands is huge. If Moss can escape Revis Island and help lead the Pats to a enormous statement win, then the cries to sign Randy will ring louder than the Rex Ryan when he's all hopped up on peanut M&Ms. All the onus will be on the Pats, and theyll be pushed to react. Youd like to think that they would, but who knows?

They'll probably try and make him publicly apologize for Sunday's tirade before letting him sign.

Speaking of apologies . . .
Lets say you're out at a bar one night with your girlfriend and her friends. It's a good time, everyone's having fun, the drinks are flying and then all of a sudden, through some random conversation, you find out she lied to you about something. Something pretty significant. You get upset. Now you're in a fight, it gets a little heated, you say one or two things that you shouldn't and she walks out. You guys break up.

I swear this will have a point in a second.

Two weeks pass, and you're still upset about what she did, but you know you can get over it. She feels the same way, and you guys decide to work it out. She apologizes for lying, and you explain how sorry you are for what you said. At this point, you realize that even though you're genuinely hurt, your comments were a little bit over the line. So you get back together; you're both ready to move forward.

Until an hour passes and she calls to say: "Hey, um, so, I've decided that the only way I'll take you back is if you also e-mail all the girls we were out with that night and apologize for what you said to me.

"I want them to all know how sorry you are. But it's not enough that they hear it from me. Gotta come from you."

Ehhh, I dont know. In some cases, maybe you write the e-mail. Maybe you say, "OK, this sucks, she's who I want to be with, so I'll suck it up to make her happy."

But if this relationship was already rocky to begin with, or, if you're still secretly harboring some very strong negative feelings from the night in question, then I doubt you'd do it. You'd take it as a slap in the face. You'd feel like she was trying to demean you in front of her friends, when in reality you were both at fault.

You'd probably walk. I know Logan Mankins would.

The Megatron Bomb
Did anyone else notice that Calvin Johnson's left hand was out of bounds in the back of the end zone before he dropped the ball? Actually, I'm not sure if it was, because we never got the perfect angle, but gun to my head, the left hand was down on the white before the ball came out. Think about that for a second. How does it make sense that a guy could have possession of the ball, go out of bounds, and then be penalized for something done after the fact?

In any other situation, if you go out of bounds when you have possession then that's it. Like, imagine a receiver makes a catch on the sidelines, gets two feet down, then steps out, stumbles and drops the ball on impact. That's a reception. But in this case that didn't matter. Or maybe it was just never brought up.

Either way, this rule does have to be tweaked. If for no other reason than because players today are absolute freaks. They can do things like catch the ball with one hand, be in complete control, and then go out of bounds with the other.

I understand the rule, but there's no doubt he caught the ball. The touchdown should have been good. But on Sunday, it was only good if you were a Bears fan (or if you were playing against Johnson in fantasy).

Fail Mary
If you missed the last play of the first half of last nights CowboysRedskins game, heres a quick recap:

Washington's up 3-0, and Dallas has the ball on its own 36. Obviously the Cowboys want to take a shot at the end zone, so Romo takes the snap, and fades back for a Hail Mary attempt. Nothing's there, so he steps up in the pocket and decides to throw a one-yard dump off to Tashard Choice, who promptly gets hit, fumbles and lies on the ground as DAngelo Hall returns it for six.

It was a crushing play. Which for some reason prompted Cris Collinsworth to take a collective shot at NFL fans. I'm paraphrasing, but this is essentially what Collinsworth said after the Washington TD:

"You know, Al, you've got all these fans around the league who like to yell and boo when their team takes a knee and runs out the clock at the half, and, well, this is what you get . . . By the way, how do you like the sound of my voice? I love it!"

He painted the Hail Mary as some intricate play with a high risk of disaster, which the fans so savagely ignore in their quest for entertainment. When in reality, the whole things pretty basic. There's no precision timing, laterals or fumblerooskis involved; it's basically, "OK, everyone run down there, I'm gonna yell '500' and toss it up. Or if I get in trouble, I'll just throw it away." Can something go wrong? Of course, but something can always go wrong. Shouldn't fans be able to trust that their team can pull a Hail Mary? Or that their quarterback knows not to throw a last-second shovel pass to a back-up running back who's surrounded by three defenders and the sideline?

Despite what Collinsworth was suggesting, Wade Phillips' mistake wasnt calling for an oh-so-risky Hail Mary. It was that, as usual, his team lacks discipline and doesn't know how to react in pressure situations.

Yet somehow, he continues to work.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Another burner for Brady: Kraft compares Cooks to Moss

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Another burner for Brady: Kraft compares Cooks to Moss

PHOENIX -- For an indication of just how high the expectations sit for newly-acquired Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks, have a look at what team owner Robert Kraft said during the annual league meetings at the Biltmore on Monday. 

Asked about all the moves Bill Belichick and his front office have made this offseason, Kraft started with the former Saints big-play threat.

"I think what they've done is excellent this year," Kraft said. "And I know bringing this young man from New Orleans, I don't know, except since I've owned the team the only player who could make an impact like that at wide receiver is Randy Moss. He doesn't have his height, but he's got his speed. I think that's complementary to what we have on the team. I'm excited about him joining us."

Cooks gives the Patriots one of the most dynamic pass-catching threats in the NFL and should provide an additional boost to an offense that ranked third in the league in points scored (27.6) in 2016. He is one of three players to record 75 catches, 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. The other two? Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.

Those are some big names, but Moss may be the biggest ever associated with Cooks. What Moss did when he arrived to New England in a trade with the Raiders in 2007 was historic, catching 98 passes for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns. 

As excited as Kraft is for Cooks' arrival, not even he will project a similarly gaudy statistical year. But he's clearly thrilled that Tom Brady will have yet another explosive receiving threat to pair with Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and an impressive stable of pass-catching backs.

Kelly's a potential weapon in the Red Sox bullpen

Kelly's a potential weapon in the Red Sox bullpen

Joe Kelly’s ascent to the eighth inning has been pretty darn rapid.

Tyler Thornburg’s questionable right shoulder and the loss of other relievers elsewhere -- remember Koji Uehera, now of the World Champion Cubs? -- have thrown him into the spotlight.

That doesn’t make Kelly anything close to a certainty, though.

Entering spring training, even Craig Kimbrel, one of the very best closers around, faced some doubt after control flare-ups a year ago.

In Kelly, the Sox have an overpowering righty who couldn’t harness his stuff in the past. Someone who conspired with Clay Buchholz in making the Red Sox rotation look dismal midseason.

Kelly’s ineffectiveness last year, in fact, was one of the reasons they traded for Drew Pomeranz on July 14. And, logically, one of the reasons the Red Sox did not want to subsequently rescind the trade for Pomeranz.

The last start Kelly made with the Red Sox (and possibly in his big-league career) was on June 1 against the Orioles. He allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings and was immediately demoted.

He didn’t make it back to Boston until late July.

The best reasons to believe in Kelly now, in Thornburg’s absence, are straightforward: he was awesome at the end of last year, and he is overpowering.

In an eye-opening September, he held hitters to a .180 average in 14 innings. He gave up one earned run, carrying a 0.64 ERA, struck out 20 and walked just three.

That’s awesome potential.

He’s always had that, if nothing else, though: potential. What’s to say Kelly lives up to it? He might. There’s just not a lot to hang your hat on.

In eight innings this spring, Kelly has as many walks, seven, as he does strikeouts.

“The point we’re trying to stress to him, no one in this game is perfect,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Monday, including the Boston Herald. “He doesn’t have to be perfect with every pitch located. He has premium stuff. Trust it, and get ahead in the count a little bit more frequently.”

Early in spring training, Kelly talked about how he was still learning on the job, as you’d expect. That’s going to continue to be the case, and he'll continue to have to prove he's at last arrived.