Mac Jones and the Patriots are on a roll heading into December (Photo: Eric J. Adler)
By BUNKY McCOY
• Here we are staring at December with the Patriots once again back in the thick of the playoff race – no small feat considering this is the same team that struggled out of the gate at 2-4.
With a rookie quarterback (Mac Jones) at the controls, the wise old coach on the sidelines (Bill Belichick) looks like a genius once again as the Hoodie continues to make strides in proving that there is life in Foxboro in the post-Tom Brady era. Yet as the Pats are well aware, winning five in a row or sitting in first place at Thanksgiving won’t get you a division title or a Duck Boat parade.
There are major tests ahead starting with a Sunday matchup at Gillette Stadium against the 8-3 Tennessee Titans. Win or lose, this Patriots season will still mean something as the calendar flips from November. That may be a significant achievement for the Sons of Belichick but any team with Belichick roaming the sidelines will be measured only by playoff success.
• Everyone enjoy their Thanksgiving? Better yet, did you get into any crazy arguments with the in-laws? Was the name Trump uttered at all?
• Turkey Day is synonymous with football but with all of these Feast Week hoop matchups, it’s easy to shift to college basketball somewhere between the cranberry and the stuffing.
• Speaking of college hoops, have you seen Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga yet? Oddly-shaped, oddly-skilled big man could by the No. 1 pick in NBA Draft.
• QUIZ OF THE WEEK: This current NFL quarterback was drafted by the Montreal Expos. Do you know who he is? (Answer near the bottom of the column.)
• A salute to Tiverton’s Bob Murray and Shea High’s Dino Campopiano for closing out their high school coaching careers after many years at their respective schools. It’s worth noting that the RIIL dispatched a representative to honor Murray following the Thanksgiving morning game while no one from the state’s governing body of high school athletics showed up to Campopiano’s final game on the sidelines Wednesday night.
•Speaking of Thanksgiving football, did you see the Retired Sports Writer vs. Sports Writer Crime Friday as the ability of newspapers to behave like it’s still 2015, let along 1985, disappears? Long-time ProJo schoolboy editor John Gillooly correctly bemoans fact that the once-great paper of record couldn’t find a way to cover a Thanksgiving (10 a.m. kickoffs) football game or three.
• Baseball’s offseason doesn’t truly get underway until the Yankees sign someone to a mega deal.
• Will Saturday be the day where Jim Harbaugh finally gets the better of Ohio State? The Michigan coach is winless in five tries against the Buckeyes.
• The Red Sox losing Eduardo Rodriguez – a starting pitcher who’s yet to turn 29 – to Detroit is another cold reminder of the belt-tightening that exists on Jersey Street. Me? I had to loosen the belt buckle after a few helpings of turkey and pumpkin pie.
• LINE OF THE WEEK comes from ole Belichick himself after the recent win over the Browns when he was asked if he checks in with players during the game if they’ve missed practice time due to injury: “I don’t check anybody out. I don’t think anybody wants me playing doctor with them. That’s not really my job. I’m not very good at that. But that’s why we have our medical staff. They monitor that.”
• With the R.I. sports media market featuring three female sportscasters – Ch. 12 with Rosie Langello and Taylor Begley and Ch. 10 sporting Taylor Rocha – it’s only a matter of time before we see the launch of a “Girl Power” podcast.
• Seems someone forgot one of the Golden Rules of Sportswriting. It’s never a good idea to predict who wins a high school game and that was on full display last weekend as the Hendricken student section took absolute glee in mocking Journal sportswriter Eric Rueb after a brazenly called for a 28-10 La Salle win in the state championship football game. The Hawks ended up prevailing, 49-40. Talk about a big pile of whoops, Bunky.
• QUIZ ANSWER: Tom Brady, who was drafted in the 18th round in 1995 as a left-handed-hitting catcher when he was coming out of high school.
• One night after seeing his Friars find the range and swish 14 threes in a win over Northwestern, Ed Cooley could only watch in horror as PC 23 percent from the field and 13 percent from three in a blowout loss to Virginia in Newark. Yes, the Fightin’ Tony Bennett’s feature more locks than the LoJack Corporation. There’s also no truth to the rumor that a distress signal was sent out to Santa Cooley. Send some shooters ASAP!
• Speaking of holiday gift-giving, here’s a shameless plug to purchase a subscription to KevinMcSports.com for the sports fan in your life. For $50 you’ll get coverage of PC hoops (and other items) within hours. Sounds like a steal in a world where some subscribers to newspapers are forced to see sports results from the previous day in the next day’s paper? Unlike this one in the Blackstone Valley, by the way.
• Two roads to avoid between now and Christmas: Bald Hill Road – unless you’re heading to Haxton’s Liquors – and Mineral Spring Avenue.
• Good timing on Gov. Dan McKee’s part to take a two-week vacation. COVID cases are rising in Rhode Island and word came down that members of his administration are slated to receive two bonuses of $1,500 apiece if they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine. Can you say Union Handout? Ahh, Rhode Island politics.
• Had to buy these up right away but highly recommend Jolly Old Saint Nick to pick up “The Big East: Inside the Most Entertaining and Influential Conference in College Basketball History” by Dana O’Neill and “Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics” by Dan Shaughnessy.
• Don’t be surprised if the road through the AFC Playoffs goes through a familiar venue in Kansas City. The Chiefs are back in first place following a 2-3 start and Patrick Mahomes is playing like an MVP once again.
• That sound you hear is the Cowboys’ season about to go Boom.
• Anyone ask the Independent Man if he wants a cold Turkey leg with his eggnog?