Saturday, March 8, 2014
Time to ring in the new. As the dawn of 2013 rises over New England, here are a few resolutions for Boston's teams.
Will the confetti fall at City Hall Plaza this year? There's a chance. But only if the Pats, Sox, Celtics and Bruins heed our advice.
The Patriots are probably the closest thing we have to a championship-caliber team right now. They need to resolve to keep the same commitment to defense they showed in Sunday's 28-0 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins.
Hard to believe that was the same group we agonized over back in September. Over the first seven weeks of the season, the Patriots gave up an average of 22.7 points per game. Not coincidentally they were hovering around the .500 mark at that point with a 4-3 record.
New England hits the playoffs having won six of the past seven games while giving up an average of just 17.6 points. That culminated in Sunday's shutout that was highlighted by a season-high seven sacks.
The Dolphins are not playoff-ready, and Bill Belichick's team will be facing much more formidable foes in the weeks to come. But with impressive wins over Houston and Indianapolis under their belts, the Pats have to believe they can make a run to the Super Bowl. They just need to resolve to stay true to the defensive scheme given to them by Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
Speaking of defense, we've got a simple New Year's resolution for the Celtics. Watch the tape of Sunday's horrific loss to the Sacramento Kings. Watch the uncontested 3-pointers the Kings launched in the fourth quarter. Look at how little effort was expended in an effort to stop those shots. Watch as the long-range shots dropped into the net, and the Celtics dropped two games below .500.
This is one of the most frustrating Celtics teams we've seen in a long time. They give you glimpses of what could be, like the 93-76 blowout of Brooklyn on Christmas Day. Followed by a three-game losing streak. Last spring, the Celtics reminded us that an old team can go deep into the playoffs if they are committed to playing defense. The last three games reminded us that the core of this team is another year older.
While the Celtics should resolve to learn from the recent past, the Red Sox need to make a resolution to forget about the past season. There's little to be gained from thinking about the Bobby Valentine Era or the dysfunction that reigned supreme from the moment the team set up camp in Fort Myers, Fla.
While they're at it, they should forget about the departed teammates of that era. Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford are gone. They should be forgotten. They never had what it takes to respond to the cauldron of Boston baseball. Maybe newcomers like Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster do.
Finally, the Bruins have the easiest New Year's Resolution of all. They need to play their sport. With the two sides of the labor dispute meeting again, it's time to get this great game back to work. Hockey fans are the most loyal supporters in sports, but they've been pushed to the brink. They need a little good news and a reason to renew their faith in the game's leaders in 2013.
Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.