It’s Clear That Bill Belichick Does Everything

People just have to stop hiring from the Belichick coaching tree, because it’s a great way to back up your franchise into a universal depression. Maybe Bill O’Brien is the exception (although the next time the Texans do anything meaningful please call me), but we’ve seen enough of Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, Charlie Weis and Matt Patricia on their own to know that they clearly never did anything in New England. At least we got one in the division though.

The Lions were actually around the playoff picture, and sometimes in it, before Matt Patricia the obese rapist showed up. And even the most beef-stuffed Bears fan who thinks the forward pass should be outlawed can tell you that Mitch Trubisky sucks to high heaven against zone coverage. Fuck, it’s what Belichick figured out about Jared Goff in three minutes, another system-produced QB who had to be told exactly where to throw the ball. Any kind of disguise, and neither can figure out where the ball should go and goes into convulsions that end with the ball in the other team’s hands.

But if you simply keep playing man, then everything is exactly as it looks and Mitch can actually pick-and-stick throws. Which he did pretty much all of Thursday afternoon, and the Lions are now basically the only team that Mitch has authored genuine, NFL adult drives against. On a short week when everything is supposed to be ragged, and the Bears defense kind of was, the Lions made Mitch look real. That’s not easy to do.

It’s obvious that Belichick plans everything, does everything, and then lets his assistants wear a headset and talk even though they’re probably not hooked up to anything. They get to play NFL Coordinator. They’re Gary Coleman talking to the president from his desk in that Christmas episode of the Simpsons. When McDaniels takes over the Pats after Belichick has four simultaneous strokes, they will immediately go 2-45. And then every Pats fan will be screaming for Trot Nixon to take over as coach. Just watch.

The Lions Are A Thanksgiving Tradition We Can All Enjoy

I’ve seen a lot of suggestion that the Lions should be removed from Turkey Day, and NBC getting a night game now is something of an admission that Detroit and Dallas shouldn’t be the only hosts. But there’s something about the Lions on that special Thursday that I wouldn’t want to lose.

Maybe it’s because they’ve always played in a stadium that gave off the feeling of a garage or airplane hangar. There’s always been something underground about either the Silverdome or now Ford Field. Like they whole place has been sequestered from society. It’s not always like that. You can tell the Superdome is in the middle of New Orleans just by watching a game there. But not in Detroit. It’s quiet and dark and weird. It’s a tradition we can’t figure out how to get rid of, so here it is from some holding pen we built. It doesn’t even feel part of the same country. Or world. It’s almost a lab experiment on some oil rig/ship in international waters.

And think about that time of day on the holiday. The game starts before any cooking or really anything is going on, or just about. So it’s a nice gathering point. And then after about five minutes of watching these dopes, you have no problem getting the day’s festivities started because you realize you’re not missing anything. Unless it’s your team playing the Lions, and then it’s just a nice boost to the day.

I think I’d be lost without it.

Despite Their Best Efforts, The Bears Almost Always Will Talk You Into It

Deep down, you knew you’d be here. As bad as the Bears looked for most of this season, as infuriating as the losses have been, you could never fully convince yourself you wouldn’t care come December. It’s funny, because before last year started, most of us would have accepted the Bears merely playing meaningful games in December, no matter how they turned out. They just got it reversed.

Maybe it’s the full week in between, when you have time to talk yourself into anything, twist the evidence however you want, before the actual game makes whatever statement that you can then twist to fit your own narrative the six days following that. But here we are, and here I am saying, “Well you can’t trust the Cowboys on the road in December, and then Hicks will be back and even though he won’t be full-strength he certainly helps and they should have beaten the Packers last time, and maybe they’re finally distilling the offense down to what Mitch can do somewhat well and really they’d only have to miracle a win against the Chiefs at home before needing only to club Kirk Cousins again to make the playoffs and that’s easy enough….”

But hey, it’s better than just running out the clock. Have you seen the Hawks and Bulls lately?

Everything Else

Ken Boehlke is one-half of This was the Q&A we did with them when the Knights were in town just a couple weeks ago. Follow them @SinBinVegas.

We know the Knights benefitted last year from insane goaltending along  with their more than solid even-strength play. But having among the worst save-percentage and shooting-percentage this season seems a violent market correction. Is there something systemic here more than just rotten luck?

What it really comes down to is Grade-A scoring chances and the subsequent execution of them. Early in the season the Golden Knights were having a hard time creating anything in the dangerous areas (in the house, if you know that term) but what was worse than their inability to create the chances was a consistency in not finishing those chances when they did arise. Luckily, as tends to be the case in hockey, that has turned recently, especially since they’ve begun to play more
Pacific division teams.

How big is the injury to Paul Stastny?

To be completely honest, it hasn’t had a major impact to this point. It’s the loss of Haula that seems to be more of a detriment to the team. Stastny certainly would have been, and hopefully will eventually be, a nice center for the 2nd line, but Eakin has stepped in incredibly well and appears to be thriving with goal-scorers on his line again. The loss of Haula however has definitely taken an level of speed away from the team and at times they don’t look like the quick, ferocious, probably considered annoying team that won the Western Conference. They’ve been searching for anyone to make the 3rd line go since Haula’s gruesome injury, but it hasn’t really happened yet. Would they be better with Stastny back? Of course, but if you gave me one or the other right now, I’d rather have Haula.

And the suspension to Nate Schmidt? While he’s unquestionably a good player is he really a top pairing d-man that a team would miss so heavily?

I’ll be completely honest in saying I heavily underestimated the impact Schmidt would have in the lineup upon his return. When a guy is out for the first 20 games of the season and the last memories of him are the Cup Final when not a single defenseman was any good, there certainly has to be a level of skepticism about how good the player really is, especially a player who has only a one year track record of being a top pair defenseman. But this guy is everything and more on the ice that made the hockey world realize that he’a a top 20 defenseman in the league and maybe even better. He’s kind of been this a stabilizing force to the defense in that they aren’t allowing an odd-man rush a period anymore, but it’s added an element of transition back into Vegas’ game and most importantly, it’s meant the return of Colin Miller and Shea Theodore to more familiar, less defensively responsible, roles. All of that was a long way to say, YES, Nate Schmidt is that good.

Max Pacioretty started slow, there was concern, and now he’s bagged six goals in four games. Was this just a product of all scorers going through hot and cold streaks?

I don’t think it was simply a cold streak that a scorer tends to go through. We’ve all seen those cold streaks and they tend to mean lots of great saves against, post hits, miraculous backchecking, and the likes. That’s not what this was for Pacioretty. He was just not good. He wasn’t creating much by means of scoring chances and he was uncharacteristically a liability defensively. When I say he was bad, I mean, he was legitimately one of the worst forwards on the team. However, he’s definitely not that anymore, and it’s not because he’s scored a bunch of goals recently. It seems to have much more to do with
his linemates. Playing with Alex Tuch isn’t as simple as it would seem. He’s so much faster than he looks and he plays with a power that’s not horribly common in the NHL. Pacioretty seemed to always been a half  second behind Tuch, likely because he didn’t expect Alex to be able to pull off some of the stuff that he does. Now, Pacioretty expects Tuch to win every puck, to undress guys at the blue line, and to fire passes through people every shift. Pacioretty is starting to find himself in much better positions when Tuch and Eakin create turnovers, and the three of them are starting to look dangerous every single time out as a unit rather than individually. Pacioretty told me about two weeks ago that he thought he was thinking too much and it was slowing him down. That’s a huge problem when you play with Tuch. That appears to be over
and the flood gates might just be open.



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