I made a commitment to writing one of these each week for the rest of the NFL season. This week I have to admit that I am slapping something together at the last minute. I’m still getting something posted though! I’m hoping that next week will involve less Christmas shopping.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Bruce Arians as a possible coach of the year candidate. I think that the most likely winner is still Andy Reid, but I have a couple more names to throw into the pot. Andy Reid’s old team is looking like a juggernaut these days. The Eagles ‘ performance last Sunday in the snow was an exclamation point to their recent run of games. There were many questions about whether Chip Kelly would be able to make the switch to the pro game. So far he has answered all of the questions decisively. He has adapted his game plans based on the differing skill sets of Mike Vick & Nick Foles. He made a great hire in Billy Davis as the defensive coordinator & they have turned around a terrible unit. You might even make an argument for Mike McCoy, who may still be a year away with the San Diego Chargers, but who seems to have done a great job of changing the culture there.
The coach who has most impressed me so far this year is Bill Belichick. I think that sometimes Belichick doesn’t get credit for the quality of his work. There is an expectation that he & his certain Hall of Fame quarterback will always win the AFC East and contend deep into the playoffs. His consistent success has made him seem less exceptional. It is still hard to ignore what he is doing this year.
Belichick knew that he was going to be re-tooling the receiving corps this year. Brandon Lloyd was off to Hollywood to make terrible movies. Lloyd actually gave up millions of dollars to play football to be in a direct to DVD Daniel Baldwin movie. Daniel. Not even Billy. They weren’t going to re-sign Wes Welker. They were going to hope that Danny Amendola could stay healthy for a year to replace him.
The good news was that Aaron Hernandez would be back & Rob Gronkowski’s arm would be healed in time for training camp. It turns out that Amendola wasn’t going to stay healthy. Worse than that, Aaron Hernandez was going to be charged with murder, & Gronk was only healthy for 7 games.
That means that the Patriots have played most of the year without their top 5 receiving targets from the previous year & their #1 free agent signing. Somehow they have made do with rookies, including an undrafted free agent, and a 4th year converted quarterback at wide receiver.
Normally, the only way to remain competitive would be to be perfect on defense. Instead, Vince Wolfork (5 time Pro Bowler, #30 on the NFL top 100 list), Tommy Kelly, & Jerod Mayo (2 time Pro Bowler) are all out for the season. Additionally tackle Sebastian Vollmer (2nd team All Pro) is out for the season & Aquib Talib & a half dozen more have missed games.
Somehow Belichick has not only kept the team competitive, but has also kept them in the hunt for the AFC #1 seed. If they win their next 3 games, they will get the #1 seed. This team has been in tatters all year & it is hard to see how they can continue to patch a bald tire while the car is driving. If they can pull this off and make it to the AFC Championship Game, I think that Belichick will have achieved more than he has in his Super Bowl winning years. Despite the fact that they have no business being there, I think that if the Patriots get to the Super Bowl, & it snows, they can win it all. There is no team I trust more in the snow than the Patriots. Even Archie Manning wouldn’t bet against Tom Brady in the snow against anyone.
What Bill Belichick is doing is unprecedented in the salary cap era. We should appreciate it.
Quick wine reviews
Sud Sauvage 2012 Rose’
Southern France 70% Cinsault, 15% Grenache, 15% Syrah 12.5% alcohol
I smell roses & strawberries on the nose. This is a crisp, clean wine. On the one hand, this isn’t an extraordinary wine, but on the other it is a good thirst quencher with spicy food. Aside from the strawberry & rose notes, I get a little bit of spice.
I had it with shrimp & Andouille sausage grits. It was quite nice. It could probably use a little more acid, but it worked very well with the food.
3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Soft , deep & dark chocolate truffle flavor. This reminds me of the chocolate covered cherries that my grandmother loved. I would have had to buy some of this for her!
Harney Lane 2012 Albariño
Nice acid, but a little soapy at the finish. I get guava & melon with some lime. It is mouthwatering from the acid.
Michael David 6th Sense Syrah 2011
Full bodied, with nice meaty bacon flavors. This with lamb wrapped in bacon would be great. It kind of tastes like a plum, with a prune, & perhaps some bacon, & some herbs. That may not sound good, but it tastes great!