Mike Shalin's Working Press: The Eagles, like others, haven't learnedBy MIKE SHALIN
January 22. 2018 11:20PM
THEY JUST WON’T LEARN.
While it’s great that teams go into their games against the Patriots with confidence, why do they have to keep throwing darts at the champs and their quarterback?
Jalen Ramsey did it, and while the Jaguars came close, it’s the Patriots headed for snowy Minneapolis to go for their sixth Super Bowl title, their third in four years.
So, what did the Eagles do after they drubbed the Vikings? You probably know the answer by now.
“Hey, Tom Brady. Pretty boy Tom Brady,” said Philly tackle Lane Johnson. “He’s the best quarterback of all time, so, nothing I’d like to do more than dethrone that guy.”
Why? Why do people keep doing this?
“For what they did to us in 2004, to get payback, there would be nothing sweeter than that,” Johnson said. “I remember watching that game when I was 14 years old. I was hoping the Eagles would win. Just coming up short, you could feel the pain, and you could also feel the passion of what this city wants. And we’re here, so it’s right at our fingertips.”
Eagles’ fans chanted “We want Brady” on Sunday. Really? You REALLY want Brady?
Mike Reiss of ESPN pointed out Monday that it was 2004 that the Pats went for three out of four — and got it against the Eagles. Now, it’s the same scenario and the Patriots opened as 5½-point favorites, the Eagles the biggest underdogs in the game since 2009.
On to Philly
It will be a rematch of the ’04 Super Bowl, with the Patriots facing Nick Foles — not Carson Wentz — and the Eagles in Minneapolis.
The Patriots receive two huge breaks heading into this one. One, of course, is the aforementioned Eagles quarterback situation, although Foles had a good game in the home win over the Vikings in Sunday’s second game. The other is the Vikings failed to become the first team ever to play a Super Bowl on its home field.
So now it’s time to spend the next 11 or so days convincing ourselves the Eagles are a worthy opponent to put the skids on Super Bowl win No. 6 for the Pats.
We’ll have help in that department — and that help began Monday, when Bill Belichick took only one question about Philly. He was asked if he watched the second game Sunday.
“Saw some of it,” he said. “The coaches and I kind of watched the game on TV a little bit yesterday. That was a pretty impressive performance by Philadelphia.”
Do the Eagles, who have beaten all odds to get here without their MVP-candidate QB, have another one in them?
Brady was asked after working his latest magic if he ever could have imagined THIS kind of success when he joined the Patriots in 2000.
Three out of four Super Bowl wins early in his career and the chance to do it again at age 40.
“I would have thought you were crazy to think that, or I was crazy to think that,” Brady said. “This has just all been … I guess it’s my life so I’m living it and it feels even natural and normal just because I wake up every day and I feel very much the same when I walk in here every day as I did 18 years ago. I really do.
“It’s a great privilege to play here. It’s a great privilege to play in the NFL. I try to represent the team, I try to represent my family, try to do things the right way. I’m very blessed. I could never imagine getting the kind of team achievements we’ve done and had. I don’t think anyone could ever take those for granted. These are pretty amazing times for all of us, fans included, players, coaches, everyone, it’s very special.”
You gotta love Belichick’s bluntness. One of the exchanges after Sunday’s game:
Q: Can you speak to the toughness of Tom to deal with something like that injury and then perform the way he did in the game?
BB: I mean, look, Tom did a great job and he’s a tough guy. We all know that, alright? But, we’re not talking about open-heart surgery here.
Also, can you believe how Belichick continues to outcoach everyone in his path?
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports the Pats are optimistic on Gronk for Minny.
Three straight losses. All at home. One without Kyrie Irving. One with Irving scoring 40 points.
What’s going on with the Celtics as they head west for four games?
“One game at a time. One meeting at a time,” Brad Stevens said after his team lost to the Magic, who came in with 17 losses in their last 19 games, Sunday. “Everything else, we’ll figure out how to play better. I thought we actually did some things better today. Especially on the offensive end in the first half. But you’ve got to play both ends; you’ve got to put it all together.”
The New Jersey Devils, one of the positive surprises in the NHL this season, will be the latest team to take a shot at another NHL surprise — the Bruins — Tuesday night.
The B’s are 12-0-4 in their last 16 games. Tuukka Rask (remember when he was struggling?), is 14-0-3 in his last 17 starts. The Bruins may be flying under the radar around here, but not around the NHL. ESPN ran a piece the other day on the Bruins being a Stanley Cup contender.
Wrote Matthew Coller: “The B’s looked as if they would be heavily reliant on stars who were either in the latter years of their prime or past it; they’d made questionable trades of young stars and had a goalie coming off back-to-back mediocre seasons.
“Instead, Boston is not only competitive, but they’re also making a case as the NHL’s second-most-dangerous team behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.”
New York Post columnist and old friend Larry Brooks Sunday on Zdeno Chara, who has turned into every bit the 40-year-old marvel as that certain quarterback: “Zdeno Chara’s season at age 40 (41 in a couple of months) for the emerging Bruins simply serves as just another reminder that No. 33 is the most underrated defenseman of the NHL’s modern era.
“And if Pierre Pilote’s omission from the NHL’s Greatest 100 is impossible to process, so is Big Z’s.”
Brad Marchand was named the NHL’s third star of the week Monday.
The Red Sox are still trying to sign J.D. Martinez, which would clearly allow them to not give Hanley Ramirez the plate appearances he requires for another $22 million for 2019. But Ramirez is ready and willing to help in ’18.
“We can be world champs,” Ramirez said Saturday at Red Sox’ Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “We can be a world champ in 2018. That’s the goal. We’ve just got to stay healthy and fight together. I think we have one of the best teams in the big leagues by name. We’ve got to do the work on the field. You see the Astros. They do the work on the field. They do have a couple of big names (also), but they know how to get the job done on the field. That’s what we’ve got to do — get the job done.”
And his bat?
“I know I can hit,” Ramirez said. “I can get 100 RBIs and 30-plus homers if I’m healthy. That’s what we’re working for this offseason. No offseason for me, and (it’s) starting to show.”
This from @REDSOXNATION via Twitter: “For 2018, the Red Sox have 2 prospects listed in the top 100 according to baseball America. (Jason) Groome comes in at #83 and (Michael) Chavis at #85. Shows you how far the system has fallen in just a few years.”
Here and there
The expansion Golden Knights overtook Tampa Bay for the NHL points lead. Think about that. … Saw a Super Bowl package that STARTS at $6,635.00 per person. … Monday marked the 15th anniversary of the Red Sox signing of David Ortiz (one year, $1.25 million, how did that work out?) — and also the 12th anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game. …
Rockets center Clint Capela on the champion Warriors: “We are better than them.” … Ramsey said his team took “no positives from its near miss Sunday. He’s wrong. That team won three games in 2016. … Finally, the new members of the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced Wednesday.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.