I would like to start this article off by saying that I’ve genuinely held back on writing about this fella for all of 2018. I was too depressed in February to actually talk about the Patriots, especially the reigning Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles. Honestly, I’ve tried my best to refrain from even thinking about the Eagles, even the city of Philadelphia in general, because I get viciously irritable thinking about every second of that shitshow on turf earlier this year.
Now, it’s finally September, a new football season has begun and I feel like I can somewhat stabally, coherently speak about Lane freaking Johnson. LANE. JOHNSON. Yes, veteran Eagles tackle with quite possibly the world’s biggest mouth who also has no logical reason to have the gigantic mouth that he possesses.
Johnson first bashed the Patriots just days after beating New England on the biggest stage in sports in an interview with Pardon My Take. I wouldn’t say that myself nor other diehard Patriots fans “let it slide” perse, but we “let it slide” for the time being because we collectively had minimal will to live at that point in time. As winter turned into spring, Lane Johnson continued flapping his lips. As spring turned into summer, Lane Johnson further flapped his lips. Now, as summer turns into fall, guess who’s still flapping their lips? You guessed it Lane HECKING Johnson. Of all people.
I understand talking victory smack when you’re fresh off your first Super Bowl win, that’s cool. It hurt me because I’m a spoiled Patriots baby, but go ahead. What I don’t understand is his fixation on continuing. Not to get all Bill Belichick on you here, but buddy. That was last season. Eight-plus months ago now. You might want to shift your focus towards, I don’t know, the present? Focus on winning, like, another Super Bowl or something like that.
I would now like to create a little timeline of all of Lane Johnson’s comments towards and/or about the Patriots since February, for multiple reasons. One, to show myself and the rest of you that if you ever feel too clingy or obsessive, at least you’re not Lane Johnson. Two, to recognize just how much real estate New England owns in that man’s head for literally no logical reason. Three, I want to really sit down, analyze and attempt to understand his thinking. Four, it makes me feel better about myself as a Patriots fan. Please accept it.
Let’s go alllllllll the way back to early February, days after the Eagles raised their Lombardi trophy, when Johnson took to Pardon My Take to air out his apparent grievances with the New England Patriots, whom, let me remind you, he just beat in the world championship game:
“I just think that ‘The Patriot Way’ is a fear-based organization. Obviously, do they win? Hell yes, they win. They’ve won for a long time. Do I think people enjoy [it] and can say, ‘I had a lot of fun playing there’? No, I don’t. That’s just the God’s honest truth.
“They’re successful, but when they go to interviews, they act like fucking robots,” Johnson added at the time. “Hey, stop being a dickhead. We can be cordial for a little bit. You only get to do this job one time, so let’s have fun while we’re doing it. Not to be reckless, but I’d much rather have fun and win a Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls.”
While both quotes made MAJOR post-Super Bowl headlines, as you may recall, Tedy Bruschi, former 13-year Patriots linebacker, clapped back and responded to the latter quote in the best possible way:
“Enjoy yourself, but leave the Patriots out of it. Lane Johnson, I don’t know what he’s talking about. I had a lot of fun...there were so many times that we would speak out in meetings. The entire team meeting would erupt in laughter. We were playing music on the team plane. We had so much fun in the ones that I was there. I cannot understand what he’s saying there.” “If you want a relationship and a double-date with your coach, go play with those guys...if you want to learn how to win games and consistently win games throughout your career, you play for Bill Belichick.
“Here’s the problem: The game is over. It’s been a week and he’s still talking about the team he beat. Why are you bringing up the Patriots when all you should be talking about is the celebration of your championship, the celebration of everything you did. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles; you are world champions, but now we’re talking about the Patriots? This is the first time you’ve won one, and this is a sign when people just don’t know how to regularly win football games. You talk about the other team and talk about who you beat, bringing up other things...let me teach you how to celebrate a world championship. Because when you win back-to-back championships, from a guy who failed trying to do it and that succeeded trying to do it, you need more than planned celebrations, dog masks and trick plays. He will learn that when they try to repeat. He’s bringing up the New England Patriots in a time you shouldn’t be.”
Tedy is forever an icon, but this only further cemented his legacy as an American hero. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Like I said before, get caught up in winning your first championship, whatever. It’s human nature. Speaking about an organization and what they collectively do to successfully run the team when you’ve never stepped foot into their locker room? Wild move, brother. Wild move. You beat them literally a week ago. They took the loss like adults, as true adults do. They didn’t trash talk you guys after the game; they did literally nothing to provoke any sort of verbal attack.
You would think, especially as a veteran NFL player, you would be able to recognize, appreciate and even lust over the Patriots, their dynasty and what they’ve done since the turn of the century. You would think that if you beat them in the Super Bowl, you would speak nothing but highly of them and soak in the fact that you just beat the goddamn PATRIOTS. In the SUPER BOWL. But, nah, apparently relentlessly talking shit thinking that anyone in that building even remotely cares and wasting your breath is apparently a much better use of a grown man’s time. Good to know, I suppose.
About a week after his initial comments on Pardon My Take, Johnson made a second appearance on the podcast and doubled down on his comments, but more important, his headline-grabbing comments, after he realized how moronic he came off and sounded:
"The Patriots, obviously, they've won five Super Bowls, so it's the Patriot way to win the Super Bowl. Does that mean that everybody has to act the same way? Do the same thing? Is that necessarily the guideline to win the Super Bowl?"
...who said that the only way to win a Super Bowl is to follow New England’s “guideline”? There are multiple ways to win multiple Super Bowls, but the other 31 teams are too inept to figure it out. Johnson solidifies that scientific fact, actually. My “guideline” to winning multiple championships is simply to take football more seriously than the Philadelphia Eagles do.
Johnson was asked about the media’s reaction to his comments, specifically to guys like Bruschi and Troy Brown’s comments, impact guys who actually played for the Patriots, and he doubled down even further, again, further making himself look foolish:
“They kept interviewing ex-Patriots players. What do you think they're going to say?" said Johnson. "They're not going to bad-mouth their coach. They're not going to say what they really want to say. Do you think that's gonna happen? Hell no that's not going to happen."
So, people like Tedy Bruschi and Troy Brown are liars? Got it. Appreciate the insight.
Can we take a second to discuss the fact that Johnson is absolutely, 110 percent positive that any Patriots player on any of the five Super Bowl teams who won multiple championships would have preferred being in Johnson’s spot, winning one Super Bowl and having fun, compared to winning multiple Super Bowls in a span of a couple years and “being miserable”? Again, WILD. Beyond wild, actually.
Why is “having fun” suddenly a necessity in professional football? Most importantly, where did the whole notion that playing football in Foxboro is a painful experience? Honestly asking. I can think of ten Patriots alums off the top of my head who have sang nothing but praises towards the Patriots organization in every facet. I honestly believe that because Belichick sometimes doesn’t answer the media’s questions, that therefore he treats his players like shit.
Maybe he’s heard from past, short-stint Patriots players that playing for them was difficult, so Johnson’s pea brain automatically assumes that the coaches treats their roster like slaves. W.I.L.D.
Johnson finally took a couple months off of dumping on the Patriots, only to return to his bashing via podcast when he joined Steve Austin’s podcast to pick up right where he left off, this time referring to New England’s arrogance. These quotes, from what I remember, flew under the radar, but here’s a refresher for all of you anyways:
“Here’s what pissed me off. The Patriots, obviously, I respect their coach, I respect Bill (Belichick), I respect Tom Brady, but just because the way they won Super Bowls the Patriot Way, is that supposed to be how everybody else is supposed to do the same thing? No, it’s not. And that’s what I got mad at, the arrogance by them.
“There was obviously some stuff behind closed doors. Their owner talking shit to our owner. Bill talking shit to our head coach before the game. I’m not gonna say it, but a lot of shit built up to that and I just got tired of hearing about it, man, to be honest. I saw a defense that wasn’t overly talented. It was all really about containing Tom Brady. We had a hard time doing that. He had 505 yards. But that was really it. Going into the game, I’m not going to be shell-shocked by it. That was kind of our thing going in. I think we had the upper hand on that.”
Johnson went on to talk about Malcolm Butler, and somehow directed the conversation towards the whole “robots” shtick again:
“Like I said, they’re robots, they’re told what to do. And if you go out of line, they’ll cut your ass.”
“Everybody is half-assed scared of them, and they’re beat before they get on the field...I ain’t playing Tom Brady, I don’t give a fuck about him.”
Allow me to remind you: this is coming from a grown man, THREE MONTHS (!!!!) after he and his teammates beat them.
Also, I’m still truly curious as to where he heard that both Belichick AND Robert Kraft “talked shit” to their opponent’s counterparts. Did he make it up? Did someone within the Eagles organization make it up? Either way, I’ll go to my grave firmly believing that both Belichick and Kraft were nothing but polite towards their counterparts whenever they did encounter each other during the week leading up to the big game. I would believe this if it were any of the other thirty-one NFL teams because the other thirty-one teams are at least partially collectively braindead. The New England Patriots are the last team to publicly talk down their opponents, let alone privately talk down their opponents directly to their face.
Not to mention, ‘arrogance’? Let me guess...sometimes Belichick doesn’t answer questions so therefore he’s arrogant. That’s my wild guess, folks. He called them arrogant when referring to “The Patriot Way”, his definition of how they win championships. What? They work hard and are polite to their opponents, thus they’re arrogant? *raises hand* Mr. Johnson, can you please explain your reasoning? I’m completely lost.
“If you go out of line, they cut your ass.” I mean, yeah, that’s how a successful and responsible organization of any kind works, pal. If you do something that isn’t allowed, you’re probably not going to survive in an environment like Foxboro. That might not be how it works throughout the rest of the league, but there’s a reason why the Patriots have been to eight Super Bowls and have won five since the year 2001.
As I guarantee you recall, Johnson continued his bizzare Patriots quotes into August, AKA the preseason, as the teams played each other in Week 2. Prior to the teams playing in a meaningless game where starters played a maximum of one half, Johnson noted, “I've been waiting on this ever since the Super Bowl was over with.” Real talk, who the hell waits for a preseason game? While it still wouldn’t make sense, I could see the losing team commenting on facing the team that beat them again, not the team that WON. No team/player should be "excited" for the preseason, let alone facing the team that they beat in the Super Bowl earlier that year, IN the preseason. W I L D.
Following those comments, Johnson pat himself on the back about his immature shit-talking of the Patriots:
“People can discredit it all they want. I think it's why I get so much recognition is because a lot of it is true and they don't want to accept it. At the end of the day, man, I'm over it... it's a totally different year.”
Even HE knows it’s a different year, yet he continues talking about the past…? Makes sense to me! I love how genuinely proud of himself he is, knowing he’s riling people up, like he’s some sort of innovative genius. I strive to reach his level of self-confidence, honestly. I want to proudly spew bullshit to the world that even I know makes zero sense, especially as a full-grown adult.
One of my favorite preseason moments, if that’s even a thing, was when Belichick “responded” to a question about Lane Johnson’s comments in, you guessed it, the most Belichick-ian way possible (I don’t need to insert the quote, do I?). You just know that Johnson was PISSED about it, too. Funny how he didn’t respond to it, though. After talking shit for an entire half a year about the coach and his team, the coach finally responds and he doesn’t even acknowledge it...hm. Interesting. Definitely NOT childish at all.
Well, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, Johnson was “over it” for a total of three weeks. Three weeks! I’m proud of him, personally. The Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons kicked off the 2018-19 season on Thursday night and Philly hit the Falcons with the “Philly Special” (I promise I’ll never type nor say that ever again) (I’ve also just learned that the playcall is actually called “Philly, Philly” now which is that much more cringeworthy, holy shit), which was a trick play featuring tight end Trey Burton throwing a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles in Super Bowl LII. They ran it again late Thursday night, this time wide receiver Nelson Agholor tossed a critical first down to Foles once again, after gaining no yards in the first quarter and scoring only three points in the first half.
It was either a blatant gloat about their Super Bowl win, or a nod at Tom Brady dropping the pass thrown by Danny Amendola in the same Super Bowl. Based on none other than Johnson’s comments, I think it was the latter:
“It was the same play the Patriots used. The one that Tom dropped.”
Yeah. I’ve said it a million times in this article and I’ll say it again, WILD. Simply. Wild. It’s nearly mid-September and, well...yeah. Still talking about the Patriots when nobody on the team or within the organization has responded to the dude’s comments. I sincerely want to know why Johnson feels the need to keep talking about the Patriots in general. You’d think that beating the team in the Super Bowl would be satisfying enough, but what do I know.
From the moment he began spewing this incessant bullshit back in February, I wondered what his teammates/coaches/higher ups within the franchise think about his comments. Based on my gut and, well, history, I’d have to guess they don’t give a hoot. Good for them, I guess. It makes me feel better about my favorite team, as a Patriots fan, surely, knowing that as long as Bill Belichick is head coach and Robert Kraft is the owner, that no player would even think about acting the way Lane Johnson does. It is unbelievably childish on a whole other level.
I understand that this was probably a painful, repetitive article to write, but I felt the need to fully document Johnson’s quotes about the Patriots. It’s intentionally repetitive, as his quotes are equally repetitive and officially worn out. I simply cannot wrap my head around him and his “logic”; HE AND HIS TEAM WON THE DAMN SUPER BOWL YET HE TALKS SHIT ABOUT THE TEAM THEY BEAT EVERY SINGLE MONTH AND THINKS IT ISN’T DUMB. Sorry for yelling, but that is my mind right now.
The moral of the story is, if you ever, for some reason, as a Patriots fan, feel uneasy about the state of the team, please remember that they will never collectively amount to what Lane Johnson has managed over the course of the last seven months, lest, during the entirety of the offseason. I firmly believe that he will never refrain from talking about the Patriots or referencing his past quotes about them, which is simply saddening. Again, this is a grown man who plays tackle for the National Football League Philadelphia Eagles.
Lane Johnson is obsessive about the team that he beat to win his own team’s first ever Super Bowl, not to mention, one of the classiest and most successful professional sports teams in professional sports teams history. Let that sink in.
(Via Getty Images)
Michael Vick. He is the greatest athlete to ever play quarterback. That makes him the greatest quarterback of all time, according to most people on Twitter and, well, essentially half of Fox Sports 1. He’s not the greatest to ever play, but his highlight reel is up there with Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders for the greatest of all time. He has the speed, agility, and athleticism of any Pro Bowl running back. But maybe you don’t believe me. Well, of all quarterbacks in NFL history, only four have rushed for 4,000 yards in a career. Steve Young has 4,239. Cam Newton has 4,320. Randall Cunningham has 4,928. And then there’s Vick. Vick and his 6,109 rushing yards. That’s more than Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren. He’s not a compiler either. Since the merger in 1970, there have been four seasons of a quarterback rushing for over 900 yards. Two of them are Vick. In 2004, Vick rushed for an incredible 902 yards.
He one upped that in 2006.
We’ll get back to what he did that year.
But what is often lost in Vick’s highlight reels is his cannon arm. He had it throughout his career, but it was really raw in Atlanta. That, combined with his 4.25 speed, is why he often ran. His arm started to come into its own in Philadelphia, but by then he slowed down from incredibly fast to just pretty fast. He missed out on two seasons where he could’ve had them both, because he decided he would throw away millions of dollars in NFL contracts and endorsements to get a few quick bucks on the side dogfighting. He would miss all of 2007 and 2008 with a suspension. Even if that wasn’t a problem, he also happened to be in federal prison for most of that time. The year before though?
He rushed for 1,039 yards.
1,000 rushing yards.
As a quarterback.
It is an all time single season record that will likely never be matched. But, as I said, he had a cannon left arm as well. This got me thinking. What would have happened if Michael Vick didn’t rush once for the entire 2006 season?
So, my first step was to go on Pro Football Reference and look up Vick’s stats for that season. They looked like this: 52.58% completion percentage, 2474 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 1,039 rushing yards, and 7 rushing touchdowns. After that, I needed every completion Vick had for the 2006 season. Yes, Vick averaged 12.1 yards/completion that season, but it wouldn’t be realistic to assume he would throw for exactly 12 yards every time. I found them all, put them all in a spreadsheet, and numbered them 1-204. The higher the number, the longer the completion. I set some rules for myself, all revolving around generating a random number. Firstly, I had to generate a number between 1 and 10,000. If it was 5,258 or lower, Vick completed the pass. If it was 5,259 or higher, he didn’t complete the pass. If the random number was 5,258 or lower, I generated another one. This was between 1 and 204. It corresponded to my spreadsheet, and whatever number was generated would determine how many yards Vick threw for on the completion. If it was 5,259 or higher, I generated a random number between 1 and 1,000. If it was between 1 and 34, he threw an interception, since his interception percentage that season was 3.4%. Little did I know, this would be a waste of time. But we’ll get to that. Only one thing was left: I needed to find every Vick rushing attempt that year. According to PFR, he had 123. Throwing out three kneeldowns- let’s face it, it’s unrealistic to throw a pass when the game is essentially decided -we had 120. Then I had to do the boring task of typing every one of Vick’s rushes into my spreadsheet, generate numbers, type said numbers into said spreadsheet, and repeat 120 times. You don’t wanna hear about that, it was just as boring and as time consuming as it sounds. Now, we can look at his stats:
52.06% completion percentage, 3,261 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Let’s put those numbers into some context.
Those 3,261 yards are the second highest of his career (behind his 3,303 in 2011). Those 21 touchdowns tied his 2010 career high. Those 13 interceptions are still the second most he’s ever thrown in a season (behind 14 in 2011). His completion percentage actually fell. Of the rushes I turned into passes, only 50.83% (or 61 of 120) were completed passes. The random number generation was not kind to Vick here. Still, as with his real life completion percentage in 2006, it ranks near the bottom for his career. A completion percentage of 52.58% isn’t exactly great either, but it can be excused when your quarterback just so happens to be a 1,000 yard rusher. Now, without his running to fall back on, that 52.06% completion percentage looks as bad as it normally does. Another interesting thing is that Vick actually lost some total yardage. He lost 252 yards to be exact. Once again, this is because of the random number generation. In total, of his 59 incompletions, 53 came on plays where he gained yards on the ground, compared to only four where he threw an incomplete pass on rushing plays for no gain, and only two where he lost yards rushing, therefore gaining yards by throwing an incomplete pass for no gain, confusingly enough.
And that is what could’ve happened if Michael Vick decided to never use his superhuman athletic abilities to his advantage. Or, he could’ve decided to use his cannon of a left arm to throw for over 4,000 yards. I don’t know. I’m a nerd.
Inevitably, the Patriots have ripped off the band-aid at last and released third-year wideout Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell missed all of the 2017-18 season with a knee ailment, missing most of New England’s practices this offseason as well, never being able to fully practice with his teammates.
Mitchell’s knee woes were an issue for him in college, too, thus why a player of his caliber dropped all the way to the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He originally tore his ACL in 2013 at Georgia and underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his knee just before the start of the 2014 season. Soon enough, these issues arose again in a Patriots uniform, starting off by him missing the regular season finale against Miami in his rookie year and also the divisional round game against Houston in those playoffs. Then, following Super Bowl 51 in August, he suffered yet another knee injury in the preseason that landed him on Injured Reserve, essentially never to be seen again.
He wasn’t able to fully participate in OTAs and training camp this year with the rest of the team, working with trainers and doing his own thing to lighten the load on his knee. On July 23rd, it was reported that Mitchell underwent a non-surgical procedure to scope out what was going on with his knee. Time had finally run its course and New England released him on August 6th. On July 30th, Bill Belichick even called Mitchell “day-to-day” when meeting with the media after practice. That day never came.
One thing to note, though, the Patriots did not waive Malcolm Mitchell with an injury designation when they released him. This essentially means that he passed a physical. If he clears waivers, he will not end up on New England’s IR and will instead become a free agent. So, Mitchell is physically able to step foot on a football field, his time with the Patriots is simply up. That’s life.
Mitchell’s rookie season was quite the memorable one. It all began in the first preseason game of 2016. You may remember that he dislocated his elbow (I will spare you from the photograph because we do not need to go down that road again), and he only missed the standard four weeks, back just in time for the regular season opener against Arizona. We all collectively knew that he was something special when he basically magically recovered from a *dislocated* *elbow*.
Mitchell racked in 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie season, most of that production coming in the second half of the season, when it mattered most, of course. He scored all four of his touchdowns in the final six games of the regular season. The most important game of his short career came on none other than February 5th, 2017 against the Atlanta Falcons. As I mentioned earlier, Mitchell missed the regular season finale and the first game of the playoffs due to his knee injury, so prior to the Super Bowl, he had only played in the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh. I recall not expecting him to have a role in the biggest game of the season after he only caught one pass just two weeks before.
Well, Mitchell went down in New England Patriots lore that magical night. In just one quarter, he caught five passes for 63 yards, totaling six receptions for 70 yards at the end of the evening. Mitchell had a string of highly important plays that lead to big things in crunch time. He first accounted for 40 yards over a five-snap span to set up Gostkowski’s field goal. Again, Mitchell was there on New England’s next drive, moving the chains on a third-and-11, which eventually led to a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola and a James White two-point conversion. The final pass he caught from Tom Brady came with 2:34 left in regulation. Mitchell got tripped up by his own feet on the route, but eventually set himself up just in time to catch Brady’s pass for 11 yards, reaching and turning up the left sideline, when the Patriots needed 10 yards. The rest is history.
To put a long story short, there’s no way in hell New England makes that comeback and wins without Malcolm Mitchell. He came up big in not only the regular season, but in the second half of the season and in the most important and biggest game on the biggest stage in all of sports. He was clutch. No wonder why he fit in so well in Foxborough.
All of his teammates and coaches, even Tom Brady, had and have extremely high praise for the player. At the start of this year’s training camp, safety Devin McCourty had this to say about Mitchell:
“That’s my guy. Younger guy that obviously you see a lot of him working his butt off trying to get back out there. It’s just sometimes he’s kind of battled through injuries and being out there. But he’s been a good player when he’s been out there, very effective for us. I think the good thing about him is his spirits are always high. He’s always continuing to work like he’s not discouraged at all. He continues to put in the work and try to get out there to do what he has to do. So, keep encouraging him, keep him going. But if you guys have talked to Malcolm, you can tell he’s got a good head on his shoulders and knows what he’s doing.”
Head coach Bill Belichick said of Mitchell:
“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out, but I don’t know how he could have put any more into it than he did.’’
One of my favorite quotes came from Tom Brady. This one came just days after Super Bowl 51 when he sat down with Sports Illustrated, offering insight into the player and his work ethic:
“ Malcolm has done a great job all season long, really driving off the ball and then creating separation when he plants. I think he had earned that trust of everybody based on the route that was called and the coverage that we were getting, so he wasn’t a guy that you are going to have out there that say ‘look, everything, in the world tells you to throw it here but don’t throw it because he can’t come up with a play in those spots’, and everybody had confidence to put Malcolm in those spots if he got it so, you know, he proved everybody right because he came up with the plays.”
I absolutely love that quote; I mean, you hear Brady singing praise daily in regards to his receivers and teammates in general, but nothing like that. The way he talks about him feels unique to me, it feels passionate.
Malcolm Mitchell is yet another example of how ruthless life as an NFL player can be. You take a risk when you put on pads and step foot onto the field every single day, and sometimes that risk can be fatal to your body and your career. Injuries are inevitable in every single sport, but few are as catastrophic as they are in professional football. Mitchell is unfortunately a prime example of that. He had a stellar career at Georgia, slipped to an organization like the Patriots and quickly became a fan favorite simply by putting the work in both mentally and physically. He was, dare I say, a perfect Patriot. He at least had everything it took to be a perfect Patriot. His attitude, dedication, speed, you name it.
He went from a star on the rise to an ex-Patriot in virtually one season. Yet another “what if” to add to the list. He had potential and hell, he still does. I hope he can make a full recovery down the road and make a name for himself and become an impact player on a good team. He doesn’t come off as a person who will give up no matter what life throws at him; I fully expect him to do everything in his power to make that happen.
As much as myself and every other Patriots fan on the planet would have loved to keep him, the team simply could not continue playing the waiting game with him any longer. He had missed an entire season, spilling into this offseason, unable to practice with everyone else. The Patriots need guys who can actually play, as does any team at any level especially as we’re in the month of August now with preseason games about to start, not to mention the lack of receiver depth on the team as is. It’s a brutal reality but, nonetheless, the kid has a place in everyone’s little Patriots fan hearts forever. The kid was flashy, quick, smart, athletic, dedicated to his craft, an overall joy to watch and, once again, helped bring home that fifth trophy. There’s not much more you could ask for from a guy who’s been pushing through gruesome knee injuries his entire professional career.
The Celtics have agreed to sign 6 ft., 7 inch combo guard P.J. Dozier to a two-way contract for the 2018-19 NBA season. Many of you are probably unfamiliar with this name, as Dozier has yet to make his mark at the highest level.
P.J. Dozier is a former five star recruit and McDonald’s All American, who committed to play for Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2015. Being a South Carolina fan myself, I have had the privilege of watching Dozier in his two years as a member of the Garnet and Black. During his tenure in college, Dozier came in with high expectations and struggled with his jump shot. He was seen as a big point guard, who had great play-making skills. He could get to the rim with ease and find his teammates all over the floor. With a 7 ft. wingspan, Dozier was an elite defender and helped South Carolina to their first Final Four in school history. After the 2017 Final Four run, many expected Dozier to stay for his junior year. He did not do that and ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers as an undrafted free agent. Obviously, someone got into Dozier‘s head and told him that he would’ve been drafted. Dozier averaged 14.6/2.9/4.7/1.9 in his 2017 Sophomore campaign. The biggest improvement he made was his three point shot, which went up to 39.4% from 21.3% in his Freshman season.
Last year as a 21 year old, Dozier played in 43 games with the Thunder affiliate G League team, where he averaged 12.9/5.6/2.7/1.3.
Overall, I think this is a talented player, who is definitely worthy of a two-way roster spot. This isn’t some journeyman player who is on his age 29 season. I think he has the upside of becoming a quality backup point guard in the NBA. The biggest obstacle is whether or not Dozier can find a consistent jump-shot. We’ll see if Brad Stevens can help this young man grow into the player he is capable of becoming.
Here is a clip of Dozier in the G League Last year.
And of course I’m going to drop a clip of his South Carolina highlights
Last night, after a thrilling extra inning game in which David Price looked like the David Price of old, Dave Dombrowski was able to complete a trade for All Star gold glover Ian Kinsler. Kinsler, 36, will be a free agent at the end of the season but provides excellent insurance as a sure-handed infielder that can also swing the bat a little bit. For the season, Kinsler is hitting .239 with 13 home runs and 32 RBI, but he has really started to turn it on as of late. According to Boston Sports Inf., since July 13, Kinsler has a slash line of .395/.480/.651/1.131 with two home runs, six RBI, and seven extra base hits.
In return for Kinsler, the Angels received minor league RHP Ty Buttrey and minor league LHP Williams Jerez. Furthermore, the two sides decided to split the remainder of Kinsler's contract, which will come out to roughly $1.83 million for each side. This could help the Red Sox in regard to staying under that $237 million luxury tax threshold, but we will see how that turns out. As always, these moves come down to the price. The Red Sox gave up two prospects that were not highly ranked in a very poor farm system, meaning they have a very outside shot of ever sniffing a major league roster.
Buttrey is a 25-year-old reliever that is currently lurking in Triple-A. He was ranked as the #19 prospect in the Red Sox system. For the 2018 season, he had a 2.25 ERA, and a 1.136 WHIP with an impressive 13.1 K/9, a 2.9 BB/9 and a 7.4 H/9. These are almost all career numbers, which means the Red Sox chose to sell high on a guy that they do not believe in. For his career, Buttrey has an ERA close to 4 and almost half the number of strikeouts per nine. Even lower on the rankings is Jerez. Previously ranked as the #23 prospect in the system, Jerez is a 26-year-old left handed reliever that is having a season that is pretty comparable to what he has done for his entire career. For the 2018 season, Jerez has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.383 WHIP with a 11.7 K/9, a 4.2 BB/9, and a 8.2 H/9. In short, the Red Sox gave up essentially nothing.
To me, this move signals a growing concern with the fearless little leader, Dustin Pedroia. In a whopping 11 at-bats this season, Pedroia is hitting .091 and does not look to be returning anytime soon from that lingering knee injury. The Red Sox have been pretty quiet on the status of Pedroia, but, at least in my opinion, this move tells me that they do not expect him to come back this season. There is a lot of concern, at least from me, that he will never come back, but that is another article for another day. Kinsler is a great defender at second base, just like Pedroia, has his moments offensively, like Pedroia, but can actually stay on the field to be a contributing member of a ball club.
Outside of the impact that this move has on Pedroia, it is also a move that can help this team immediately. With Rafael Devers going on the Disabled List with a hamstring issue, Eduardo Nunez can flip over to third base, where he is more comfortable, and Kinsler can play a much better second base from a defensive perspective. This also allows the Red Sox to not play Brock Holt as much, who can be exposed if he plays everyday.
All in all, I think this is a fantastic move for the Red Sox. They gave up essentially nothing for a player that still has a lot in the tank and can help this team towards their ultimate goal. It is clear that the Red Sox are making moves that will help them right now, which signals to me that they should still be in the market for a reliever. Unfortunately, Dombrowski said that he would not be surprised if the Red Sox do not make another move, which would be a huge mistake.
Check back in with BBS all day as we continue to give you coverage of the MLB Trade Deadline!