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Thinking Out Loud: Is Bill O'Brien a slam dunk hire?

By John Rooke,


Thinking out loud…while watching zombies stare into their smahtphones, if in another 20 years or so there will be a college course entitled “Making Eye Contact 101?”

While all of the unpleasantries were going down in New England during the NFL regular season, most of the “fix the Patriots” questions came down to two words: Bill O’Brien.

Now that just about everyone is exercising their “Rookestradamus” predictive abilities and nodding in agreement with the Patriots’ hire this week, is O’Brien really a ‘savior,’ or is he a ‘false prophet?’

Chances are strong, of course, he is neither. But with so much praise for the Patriots finally coming to their senses to make this hire – so they can revamp or retool the offense and the QB running it – is his success in Foxboro a fait accompli?

In other words, crossing sports metaphors here, is his hire a slam dunk? Hold that thought.

My first thoughts were undoubtedly like the majority here. Thank goodness sanity is apparently going to prevail beyond the failed Patricia-Judge experiment. But is it possible that not every thought or move in this direction is the right one to take?

O’ Brien checks all the boxes. He’s been here as an assistant previously, coordinating the offense from 2009-11. He’s been a head coach at the college and pro levels, to varying degrees of success. He’s worked under BB’s buddy Nick Saban, rehabbing his skills if not his coaching rep.

He was, um, apparently coached up on Alabama’s offense on arrival in Tuscaloosa by none other than Mac Jones himself, before Jones became a Patriot. Yeah, this looks good.

But the great unknown is still out there. What if this past season damaged Mac beyond repair? Some seem to think so. What if O’ Brien is single-minded in his mission, only caring if he gets back into a head coaching slot somewhere? That is certainly possible.

And if either of those scenarios pan out, BOB could wind up as more of a fallen angel than a deliverer. Just sayin’.

Be careful what you wish for. But are you expecting miracles? That’s to be determined.

Next steps to take? BOB needs toys to play with, just like Mac does. Can BB the GM, or even Mr. Kraft, facilitate the right arrivals for the roster next season? O’Brien’s ultimate success (and Mac’s too) depends on it.

Still can’t help but wonder…who is calling the shots within Fort Foxboro? Is it BB, or is he operating with a foot square up his backside?

BOB will be in New England, yes, as will his son Michael, who has committed to playing college baseball at Tufts.

The expose done by the Herald this week on the reported dysfunction within the team on the offensive side of the ball? Ridiculous, if true. Revolting, even. And definitely a riveting reading.

ICYMI – two Pats were named to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Pro team. Matthew Judon and Marcus Jones were oftentimes the difference between mediocre and just plain bad football. They could use a couple of New England teammates to join them next year.

Aaron Rodgers to the J-E-T-S? For the storylines and renewal of a rivalry alone, yes please.

And while you’re at it on Fantasy Island, Mr. Rourke (as portrayed by Ricardo Montalban), let’s place TB12 in Miami for next season, too?

Don’t get that reference? Hit the Google machine, kids. Or YouTube, your pick.

Can we call the Orlando Magic the Celtics’ Daddy? Let’s ask Pedro.

Boston is 1-3 against the 18-29 Magic this season. One-sixth of Orlando’s wins have come against the C’s.

I know, I know. Injuries, illness, back-to-back roadies, yada yada. But an 18-29 basketball team is awful. Your second team should win that one. Consider this a warning flag, fluttering in the distance…especially after a paper-thin defense was shredded this week by the Knicks.

Did you hear this week about the Uber Eats delivery guy who actually tried to deliver food onto the floor at Duquesne? It happened Wednesday night with the Dukes playing Loyola-Chicago, and early in the second half the guy wandered onto the floor looking to make his ‘drop-off,’ stopping play before being waved off the floor by officials.

There were reports that several people in the upper stands at Duquesne were videotaping this ‘delivery.’ LOL. Even the Chinese are laughing at this on TikTok.

And then ban those bozos for life. Plus, ya’ might want to hire new security at Duquesne. Seems a little lax.

That happens at the AMP? The hapless sad sack would be tackled, hog-tied, and carted off to jail before the ball returns to the other end of the floor. And the security guards would eat his food, too.

Good friend and the 49-year Voice of the Georgetown Hoyas, Rich Chvotkin, got two wins this week. Rich was named by the National Sports Media Association as the winner of this year’s Woody Durham Award, for the nation’s top college “voice.” Durham was the voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels for 40 years, and revered in the south as he called 13 Final Fours and four national titles.

Chvotkin’s second win? When his team snapped a stunning, league record 29-game losing streak, beating DePaul in DC. But they tried hard, really hard, to give it back to the Blue Demons at the end.

Is that an unbeatable, unbreakable record? You’d have to think it will be a long, long time before another Big East program might approach that number.

Irony, much? The first team to beat Xavier this season in the Big East (DePaul) also became the first team to lose to Georgetown. Wild.

Xavier completed a season-sweep of UConn this week, holding off the Huskies in Storrs even as Jordan Hawkins poured in 26 of his 28 points after halftime. Xavier is real, even if defense isn’t always a priority.

The Friars’ week met a challenge in Butler for, oh, about the first eight minutes Wednesday at the AMP. Then second gear kicked in. This time, it was the bench that did the kicking – which was a welcome sight. Corey Floyd, Clifton Moore, Jayden Pierre? More, please.

It’s a travesty that Devin Carter is NOT on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award list of finalists. Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton) and Andre Jackson (UConn) are. And Carter is a 6-4 guard/small forward who averages nearly two steals and more than one blocked shot per game…and has better scoring and defensive numbers than Jackson.

Jackson is deserving. But someone isn’t doing their homework, Dr. Naismith.

PC plays next at Villanova on NFC championship Sunday – across the parking lot from the Linc at Wells Fargo Arena. Football tailgaters, we’re told, will be queueing for positions beginning at 7:00 am. Basketball won’t tip off until noon. Fun.

Nice win for Rhody Wednesday, beating A-10 preseason favorite Dayton. The Flyers have lost three of four, and the Rams got 25 points from Ish Leggett and 21 from Brayon Freeman.

It was Archie Miller’s first-ever win against Dayton, where he coached from 2011-2017. He’s beaten every team in the A-10, except for Loyola. Who he hasn’t coached against yet.

Rhody’s ladies are still at the top of the A-10 at 8-0 after beating George Mason 57-53.

Brown’s Nana Owusu-Anane was pegged as the Ivy League Player of the Week after a 27 point, 18 rebound performance in a win over Columbia. That’s two straight POTW’s for Mike Martin’s team, as Kino Lilly took the honor a week ago.

Former Emmy Award-winning college hoop broadcast analyst Billy Packer died this week at age 82. Packer broadcast 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS from 1975 to 2008. He was on the NBC mic for the Bird-Magic matchup in 1979 that ultimately turned the NCAA Tournament into “March Madness.”

Packer was also a once-upon-a-time guest speaker at PC’s own Midnight Madness celebrations in the early ‘90’s. I recall he told me he always thought Rick Pitino and Rick Barnes had created an annual contender here. Wonder what he’d think about the Friars today?

Tweet of the Week I, from Texas Governor Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) – who is confined to a wheelchair: “I swear, I can kick as good as the Dallas Cowboys’ kicker.”

Can you hear the chants from Foxboro, Bills Mafia? Over-rated! Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!

Have to admit, my rooting interest fell with Cincinnati. Not because of hate for the Bills, but because if Buffalo had won, we would have had the neutral site AFC championship game in Atlanta.

Which would have been D.U.M.B. The NFL has already reduced the number of playoff ‘byes’ and thereby increased the value of that bye remaining in each conference. But the chase for that bye, if neutral sites are used, would cheapen and render the championship less important.

Wait, wut?

Tweet of the Week II, from @ZackCoxNESN: “Buffalo has the second-most wins in the NFL over the last three years (behind KC), but still no Super Bowl appearances since 1993.”

My buddy “Big E” sez right before he dies he’s going to swallow an entire jar of popcorn kernels, just to make his cremation a bit more, um, interesting. Told him I’ll bring the beer.

Saw where hockey-krishna Mark Divver offered this up, so thought I’d do the same – former PC goalie Jaxson Stauber made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks last week and stopped 29 St. Louis shots in a 5-3 win over the Blues.

PC’s current hockey Friars (ranked 17 th ) play on the road twice at Maine this weekend. ICYMI, these Friars have the sixth youngest roster in NCAA Division I – the average age is 21 years old. That is relative infancy in the world of college hockey.

Can someone explain why the NHL thinks it’s good for the Bruins to play the Coyotes and Ducks twice during the season, but only play their hated-rival Canadiens three times? And not once until January 24 th ?

Awesome to see the story WJAR’s Joe Kayata did this week on Brown alum Bill Almon, who will be inducted next week into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Omaha, NE. Almon, some might recall, was THE #1 pick in MLB’s 1974 draft by San Diego.

Chris Sale was quoted this week: “I owe these people something. I owe my teammates the starting pitcher they thought they were going to get. I owe the front office the starting pitcher they paid for. I owe the fans performances they’re paying to come and see.”

Talk is cheap, Chris. Your contract isn’t. No more talkie, just pitchy. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Best off-season move made by the Red Sox? DFA’ing Matt Barnes. That’s at least ONE step in the proper direction. Easiest $7.5 million ever swallowed.

And while I was pleasantly surprised at fans’ reaction from the first Winter Weekend event in three years (in Springfield last weekend), booing Red Sox hierarchy on and off the stage – when they must have expected a ‘softer’ landing spot – I’m not surprised NESN took the liberty of lowering the sound level of those boos on the TV replay this week so we could hear what Chaim Bloom and John Henry were saying.

Watching the entire show was, in a word, uncomfortable. Hilarious to listen to the clips on radio this week, however.

Loved the guy in the background yelling “bring back Dombrowski!” as Bloom was attempting to reason why the Sox decided to depart with Mookie Betts. For which there really is no good answer, Chaim, when you ditch a generational talent for flotsam and jetsam in return.

The London Daily Mirror suggested this week Liverpool FC fans may have a kinship with Red Sox fans, since they also have issues with John Henry’s, um, frugal persona – whether deserved or not.

But it’s just bidness, right? Kinda understand why Mr. Henry doesn’t speak much in public anymore. ‘Cuz what comes out these days requires a PR crisis communications team to clean up.

Higher ticket prices are needed to field your payroll? A payroll that won 78 games and finished in last place again? Your employees have finished in LAST place (5x) more often than they’ve finished in first place (4x) since 2004.

Sam Kennedy also tried to justify ticket prices, saying it’s less expensive to go to Fenway than to TD Garden. Is that like choosing between the Ritz and the Four Seasons?

You might remember your faux pas, gentlemen, when the stands fail to fill as often as you might like next season.

Personally, I’m boycotting any company that sells items I can’t afford. Especially if the product stinks.

At the other end of this spectrum, I give you the San Diego Padres. They have capped season ticket sales due to unprecedented demand…and ostensibly, thanks to their higher payroll (Xander, hello!). Bogaerts is one of six players with an annual average contract value at $20 million or more.

What a novel idea. Spend it, to earn it. Why can’t we come up with stuff like that?

Scott Rolen? Scott Rolen, Hall of Famer? With all due respect, that’s not a phrase I ever envisioned using.

Hey BBWAA? Get off the high horse, get out of the bars, away from the court rooms and put down your own drugs of choice…since you clearly already know what it takes to be outstanding citizens yourselves…and put the players into Baseball’s Hall of Fame who are MOST deserving.

Deserving as PLAYERS, that is.

There were two American men in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open (three, actually) facing each other for the first time in 15 years. Tennis, even the Grand Slam events, still has a way to go to get back into viewers’ habits.

But that’s one way to get eyeballs back on the sport, right Edward in East Providence?

Forbes reports this week the New England is home to two of the six wealthiest sports empires on the planet. Fenway Sports Group (yeah, John Henry, that’s you) is ranked 4 th with an enterprise value of $10.4 billion…with the Sox, Liverpool and Pittsburgh Penguins in their fold.

The Kraft Group/Kraft Sports + Entertainment, the corporate home entity for the Patriots and Revolution, ranks sixth at $7.94 billion.

Not feeling too good about asking for a raise, however. Someone has to pay off a few of those coaching salaries first, I figure.

Number One is Liberty Media, home for the Atlanta Braves and Formula One racing, at $20.8 billion. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (Rams, Avalanche, Nuggets, Rapids, Arsenal FC) is 2 nd , with Jerry Jones all by hisself at #3.

MSG is fifth (Knicks, Rangers, Hartford Wolfpack), the Yankees (Yankee Global Enterprises) are 7 th . Behind New England, FSG and the Sox. That’s at least one win Boston has over NY for this next season.

Not for nuthin’, but the aggregate worth of the 25 most valuable sports empires on the planet comes to a tidy $173 billion. And that’s 12% higher than they were worth a year ago. Inflation, you know.

Our friends at this week tell us that Massachusetts is the third-most obsessed state in the U.S. when it comes to playing fantasy football. Rhode Island is fifth, New Hampshire sixth, Connecticut 10th.

There’s a good joke in there, somewhere, maybe two. I’ll let you figure ‘em out.

Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments, and local stories to jrbroadcaster@gmail .com . We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @ JRbroadcaster …and join in on Facebook, ...

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM , every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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