The Red & Black

Has The Patriots Dynasty Come To An End?

After this year’s wild card game loss to the Tennessee Titans, New England fans were left questioning the future of their franchise. Over the past 20 years, the Patriots have become one of the most feared teams in the NFL.

Headed by the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, and one of the winningest coaches of all time, Bill Belichick, the Pats looked to be out for yet another championship this year.

After starting the season 8-0 under the pair, super bowl debate was starting to heat up, even talk about Tom Brady’s second perfect season seemed feasible. Unfortunately, that season ended 4-4, with losses to three playoff teams, and a heart-breaking defeat at home to Miami (5-11) that cost the Patriots a bye week in the playoffs.

This all set up the Patriots for a Wild Card game appearance, their first in ten years. We all know what happened next, a 20-13 loss at home to the Tennessee Titans (9-7). That game left fans of all teams with one question, is the dynasty over?

The answer is a simple no. Many fans and ESPN theorists believe that the dynasty will end when Brady retires, but that does not necessarily mean that the dynasty ends. Over the last 20 years Patriots fans have been blessed with excellent coaching, team management, and draft picks, all of which should stick around with Belichick.

I expect the famed coach to stick around at least a few years after Brady finally steps off the field for good (which could be a couple years). With Belichick’s wisdom as coach, and effectively as general manager, the Patriots still have a chance to win a Superbowl in the upcoming seasons.

Obviously Brady’s last years will be our best chance at a ring for a while, but after that, I personally have faith that Belichick will find a (somewhat) viable replacement.

With recent improvements to our defence (allowing a league best 275 yards per game), and our receiving core (I think N’Keal Harry will be a dominant target for the Pats) we are still in good shape. I must admit, the doubters do have their reasons.

Our offensive line gave Brady one of the smallest throwing windows in his career, and despite their talent, receivers not named Julian Edleman either underperformed or were injured for a chunk of the season.

I suppose the future of the Patriots depends on the optimism of the person, but I believe that we still have good years ahead.

Alex Cora Gets Fired

Sign stealing has always been a part of baseball. Players and coaches have been trying to decode the other team’s hand signals to gain an upper hand. But, with the new introduction of electronics in the dugout and cameras all around the stadium, there was always a high possibility that someone would use it to steal signs.

The Astros did, and they got busted for it. The Astros reportedly had been using the center field camera to decode the catcher’s signals and relay it to the players. Originally, someone figured out the signs in the replay room in the clubhouse and gave the information to the dugout via a cellphone.

As this method was a little tedious, Alex Cora arranged for a TV monitor showing the center field camera installed right outside the dugout. The players also tried plenty of ways to tip the batter off about what pitch was coming.

Some of these methods included clapping and whistling, but the one they found most effective was banging on a trash can with a bat. They used this sign stealing scheme for the entirety of the 2017 regular season and playoffs, even after the Red Sox were caught with an Apple Watch in the dugout, and the MLB threatened a very big punishment for the next team caught stealing signs using electronics.

They finally received that punishment this week as manager, AJ Hinch, and general manager, Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year and later fired by owner Jim Crane. They also were fined five million dollars and were docked their first and second round picks for the next two years.

When Red Sox fans read this report, they knew that Alex Cora would not be here much longer. Hinch and Luhnow were fired because they didn’t stop it from happening, but Cora was an active participant in it.

So it was no surprise when the next day it was announced the Red Sox and Cora had “mutually agreed to part ways.” Cora released a statement saying that he would be “too much of a distraction to the team.”

It was obvious that Cora needed to be fired for this, there was no way he could’ve continued as manager with this hanging over him, but it leaves the Red Sox with an unwanted managerial search, right before the start of Spring Training.

The top candidates right now are Ron Roenicke, the current bench coach, Carlos Febles, the current third base coach and legendary former catcher Jason Varitek. There is also an outside shot for Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.

The fans will want to see one of the former players, but this would be a tough situation to put a first time manager in. I believe the smartest choice would be Ron Roenicke, as he has experience at the head of a team and has been on the Red Sox staff for a while now.

First year general manager Chaim Bloom has a lot of decisions to make with the season right around the corner.