CALL IT bulletin board material. Call it poking the bear. Say it ain’t wise to tug on Superman’s cape or spit into the wind.
Sometimes, it’s best just to keep your mouth shut.
If someone asks you about a coming opponent, take the New England Patriots’ road and say nothing but nice things.
Prior to his team’s arrival at Gillette Stadium to face the then-7-0 Patriots, Jarvis Landry said the Browns were going to win.
“We’re gonna win,” Landry said. “We’re gonna win. I think it’s just that simple. We’re getting guys back healthy again, and we’re gonna win.”
No need to pull a Joe Namath or Mark Messier and guarantee a victory, especially when you pull a White House and say you didn’t say it; that you said, “We’re going there to win.”
Jump ahead to this week, and the Baltimore Ravens, who are set to host the now-8-0 Patriots.
Asked about the Patriots’ defense, Ravens tight end Nick Boyle said, “We’ll see how good they are once we play them. I don’t think they’ve seen anyone like our offense or like Lamar. They’re a good team and we’ll need to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Lamar is Lamar Jackson, a talented and mobile quarterback selected by Baltimore with the final pick of the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, one pick after the Pats took Sony Michel.
Jackson is, in a word or two, a handful.
“I’ve never seen a player like this at the quarterback position,” says Devin McCourty. “I think, obviously, his speed. The way he’s able to throw the ball down the field. You watch some games where he’s moving around the pocket, he’s close to running, and he sees a guy downfield, and it’s like he flicks his wrist and it’s 50 yards down the field easily.
“So, I think it’s his ability to throw the ball down the field. But also, they come out there in empty and if it’s not there, if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’s able to make three guys miss in the backfield. Now, it’s 45-50 yards later before anybody gets next to him. I think it’s a combination of everything.”
See, that’s what you’re supposed to say about the coming opposition.
Jackson and his Ravens are 5-2. The QB has thrown for 1,650 yards and 11 touchdowns and has run for 576 and three scores. But he has thrown five interceptions and fumbled four times (none lost). So the chances appear to be there for this defense to pilfer the football.
Had to love the following informative exchange between the media and Bill Belichick Wednesday:
Q: You’ve faced some mobile quarterbacks this year but does Lamar Jackson’s ability take it to another level?
BB: Yeah, he’s very fast. Yeah. He’s had great production.
Q: What do you see out of him from the passing game?
BB: Good, yeah. He’s good.
Q: Does he remind you of any specific quarterbacks that you’ve faced in the past? How do you go about containing such a dual threat?
BB: Yeah, he’s a major problem and everybody’s had trouble with him. It’ll be a big challenge for us. Yeah, he can do it all. He can run, he can throw, can throw on the run, can extend plays. He’s tough.
The Ravens are clearly the best of what the Pats have seen through their romp through the junior varsity portion of their run to a possible eighth Super Bowl title. The Ravens are a quality opponent and this is a Sunday night game at their place.
But the Pats’ defense has allowed FOUR touchdowns in eight games. Now, a member of the other team has dared them to show how good they are. This may not end all that well for the Ravens, and it might lead to … quoth the Ravens, “nevermore.”
The Pats are 3½-point road favorites to go to 9-0.
Entering play Thursday night, the NFL had four teams riding high – the Patriots, 49ers (7-0), Saints (7-1) and Packers (7-1). But in a league that’s claimed a quest for parity through the years, we have the following: the Bengals 0-8, Dolphins 0-7, Redskins and Falcons 1-7, Jets 1-6 and Giants and Broncos both 2-6.
So, the chances are high that the game you’ll be watching at any given time is NOT an “Any Given Sunday” type deal.
Having the 0-7 Dolphins on Monday night football was an insult to football fans everywhere. Give Miami credit for jumping ahead of the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers before caving. But still …
The Patriots didn’t make any deals right at the deadline. But having already swung the Mohamed Sanu trade and making other roster moves that left the cap number low (thanks, Antonio Brown), nothing was done right at the deadline.
For the record, Albert Breer of MMQB had the Pats with $2.49 million of cap space at the deadline, the 28th most in the 32-team league.
After a three-game warmup, Kemba Walker arrived as the on-court leader the of the Celtics Wednesday night as the C’s rallied from 19 down to defeat the Bucks — everyone’s favorite to win the East.
Walker was just 7-for-19 from the floor and 4-for-11 from 3-point range, but he had 32 points, six assists, six rebounds and three turnovers in 38 minutes in an important early victory. It came with Jaylen Brown and Enes Kanter out — and with Walker going 14-for-15 from the foul line.
In case you didn’t know, the Celtics are an outside-shooting team not known for getting to the line.
“I definitely did a great job at getting to line tonight,” Walker said. “I got fouled on a (3-pointer) one time, which is usually mistakes on the other team’s behalf. Can’t get used to that, can’t get too used to that. I don’t if I’m going to be getting 15 free throws too often.”
For an extended version of this column, visit UnionLeader.com.
It can get you instantly
If you believe in karma, think about the Astros, who fell to the Nationals in the World Series. The recent handling (and firing) of an assistant GM after his verbal attack on a female reporter — at first denied by the team — over comments concerning accused abuser Roberto Osuna; the accusations of sign stealing; Alex Bregman carrying his bat all the way to first base after his home run in Game 6; the banning of a reporter from the clubhouse at the behest of Justin Verlander. Does it all add up?
The seven-game series bought the Red Sox extra days before the J.D. Martinez opt-out, but know this: The Yankees did not exercise their option on Edwin Encarnacion, who has hit 20 homers in 66 games at Fenway Park in his career and could provide an alternative if Martinez leaves.
Ironically, new head of baseball ops Chaim Bloom just left the Rays who, through a series of transactions, were paying the bulk of the money Encarnacion made with the Yankees.
And the Sox announced their coaching staff additions Thursday: Dave Bush is the new pitching coach, Kevin Walker the assistant pitching coach and Peter Fatse the assistant hitting coach. Oh, and Rey Fuentes is the mental skills coordinator.
Somehow, I don’t think Babe Ruth or Ted Williams ever had a mental skills coordinator.
Happy November, everyone!