Article

PLANET DOES PCTV … GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE BAKER TO VISIT PITTSFIELD … BELICHICK, BRADY, KRAFT DELIVER DYNASTIC CONSISTENTCY UNPRECEDENTED IN PARITY-DRIVEN NFL

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary 
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ADD 1 JAN. 16, 2014 later in the day:
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THE PLANET has obtained new information regarding the fatal car crash PHS. We hope to share it with you tomorrow after a little more sourcing. The BB comes up short again. Make sure you tune into THE PLANET for what we’ve learned.
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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JAN. 16, 2014) — First off, let us thank our Right Honorable Good Friends Peter Marchetti and Jonathan Lothrop for an enjoyable, intellectually stimulating hour of TV last night. THE PLANET appeared on “Consider This.” The show went out live, but, as is the case for such shows, it will be rebroadcast on tape. Consult the PCTV listings for specific times. Being in the hot seat was fun, more fun that being the host. Thanks, fellas. We hope to have the opportunity again.
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BAKER TO BRING GUV CAMPAIGN TO PITTSFIELD
Charles Baker Republican candidate for governor, will be  visiting Pittsfield on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Baker has planned two stops. The first will be an appearance at from 4 to 5 p.m. on “Out Front TV.” The show will be broadcast live from the PCTV studios.  Later, Baker will be addressing supporters at Zucco’s Restaurant, 451 Dalton Ave., Pittsfield. The public is invited, beginning at 5:45 p.m. Baker is expected to speak at 6 p.m. The event will run until 6:45 p.m. Jim Bronson, chairman of the Berkshire County Republican Association, made the announcement. Bronson hosts “Out Front TV,” which features political guests and commentary on issues. Past guests have included Scott Brown, Jane Swift, Mary Connoughton, Dan Valenti, and Bill Sturgeon. 
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BOSTON’S SPORTS SUCCESS LEAVES PLANET PLAYING ON THE HOUSE’S MONEY
When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the third time in three years, it marked a watershed moment for THE PLANETas a sports fan. We had now seen each of our four teams — the Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots, and the Bruins — win at least three world titles (the Celts have won so many, we stopped counting back in the late 1960s).
We had secretly made a pact, that after each had won three titles in my witnessing, we could essentially retire our fandom passion. Since then, we have been playing on the house’s money, and so it shall be when the New England Patriots visit Denver for the much-hyped AFC Championship Game that features Tom Brady and Payton Manning for the 15th head-to-head-matchup in their storied careers. Brady has heretofore owned Manning, winning 10 of those matchups, including this year’s game in Foxborough.  
All of which leads us to today’s PLANET. After seeing the Sox win the Series, we would have found it hard pressed to expect anything to top that — and then the 2013-14 New England Patriots came along. It has been a Patriots’ team and season unlike any other. The Red Sox came through big to help a city heal the wounds of April. The Patriots then picked up on the theme, flourishing despite overwhelming injuries and odds.The following explains why.

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Is Bill Belichick better than ever as coach of Patriots?

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There is no legitimate list of best coaches in the NFL that doesn’t begin with Bill Belichick. He has been named league coach of the year three times. There are three Super Bowl titles and that 16-0 regular season, a shot at full perfection ruined by a helmet catch, of all things.

He’s put together 13 consecutive winning seasons in New England, reaching the playoffs 11 times. The Pats don’t slump.

Bill Belichick is 5-2 in AFC title games with the Patriots. (USA TODAY Sports)

 

Sunday, in Denver, he’ll lead them into the AFC title game for the eighth time, including three years running. He’s seeking his sixth Super Bowl appearance. He’ll eventually give a big speech on an August afternoon in Canton, Ohio.

So the guy isn’t lacking for recognition. No one says he isn’t good at his job. None of this is new info.

And with that body of work, it’s also probably wrong – or at least impossible – to say this season has been the best coaching performance of Belichick’s career. It may be, though. If nothing else, it’s one more reminder of the all-time greatness that is currently playing out season after season here in Massachusetts.

“I mean,” said a somber Chuck Pagano late Saturday night after becoming Belichick’s latest playoff victim, “he’s done it, obviously, for a long time.”

That’s worth noting too, because this isn’t just doing the same thing – win football games – over an extended period. This is the ability to adapt to football’s fast modern evolution and the league’s commitment to a level playing field.

Once the game changed slowly – Belichick likes to marvel at things like Gen. Neyland’s Maxims from the 1930s. Now it shifts in warp speed. It’s Belichick coaching deep into January that doesn’t.

There were no (or few) read option quarterbacks in the NFL in 2001, when Belichick won his first title. There weren’t really any spread offenses. Defenders used to be able to maul receivers. A franchise running back was highly valued. Coaches talked about controlling the clock, not forcing tempo.

Yet no matter how things change, Belichick’s success stays the same – “the plan is always to move the ball and score points.”

He’s done that with an inexperienced late-round draft pick that was just a “game manager” – Tom Brady in 2001. He’s done it with high wattage air attacks – Brady’s then-record 50 TDs, 23 of them to Randy Moss in 2007. There were seasons when he turned a crew of small, scat back receivers into an unlikely check down innovation – Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Danny Woodhead. There were others where physical, two tight end sets were the difference – Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Tom Brady’s arm got a break in Saturday’s victory against the Colts. (AP)

In 2001, the Pats ran 1,001 plays, with an almost 50-50 pass to run ratio (just nine more throws). In 2010, they ranked 21st in plays per game with 62.6. As Belichick saw faster-paced offenses becoming the rage, he visited college coaches running the spread and changed everything up. By 2012, New England led the league in snaps at 74.3 – and called 118 more passes than runs on the season.

Then there was Saturday, when the Patriots, out of nowhere, reverted to the old school, beating the Colts not with Brady’s arm but a road grading rushing attack – six touchdowns on the ground. There were 46 runs against 25 throws.

The difference is not just strategy. Tampa Bay Buccaneers castoff LeGarrette Blount ran for four scores, crediting his resurgence to Belichick’s no nonsense personality that got him to break the bad habit of running too upright. For years coaches begged Blount to lower his pad level. He didn’t until arriving in Foxborough.

“I had to,” Blount said. Why?

“Because Bill told me to.”

Meanwhile the defense, which a couple years ago lacked game breakers, is suddenly full of them, whether they were supposed malcontents such as Aqib Talib, drafted talents such as Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins or stepped up special teamers such as Rob Ninkovich.

“We knew coming in that [Belichick] wasn’t going to let our game wreckers wreck the game,” Pagano said.

That strategy – limit the opponent’s best weapon – hasn’t changed either.

“It all goes back to the game plan,” Chandler Jones said. “Coach Belichick put us in great positions to make plays. That’s what it is.”

All of this has allowed the defense to suffer injuries that would have sounded crippling in the preseason – no Vince Wilfork, no Jerod Mayo, no Brandon Spikes. Meanwhile on offense, Welker, the team’s top pass catcher left for free agency, Gronkowski, its matchup nightmare, got injured, and Hernandez, another top talent was lost to a murder charge.

Yes, that’s worth remembering also. The Patriots had one of their best players charged with murder, sort of unchartered waters for NFL teams. Not a former player. Not a role player. One of the stars of the team stands accused of taking a guy behind an industrial park in the middle of the night and shooting him in the head, gangland style.

This would seem like the mother of all distractions. Except Belichick handled it with aplomb, engaging in a serious news conference in July on the eve of training camp that many claimed he wasn’t capable of pulling off. There was no defiance, just an appropriate mix of concern, contrition and sadness that almost immediately put the entire scandal behind the organization.

Count the times he smiles on camera all you want, that was a masterful bit of leadership.

He even brought in Tim Tebow for training camp and didn’t allow that to become a sideshow.

Belichick will remain easy to root against for fans across the country. And that’s fine, he plays a great villain on TV and this is entertainment first.

Since his often open and insightful Friday news conferences aren’t televised, his image is either of a scowling face under a hoodie or a bunch of terse one-liners postgame. He doesn’t exude warmth. And while forgiveness for the Spygate scandal has been elusive, suspicions that he remains up to something remain.

So be it. He doesn’t seem too concerned about his image. Winning is the focus. Maybe he gets that fourth Super Bowl over the next few weeks or maybe he doesn’t – one more season of wondering what if Gronk hadn’t gotten hurt.

Either way Belichick is as good of an NFL coach as there has ever been, and even here at age 61, he’s at least as good as he’s ever been.

Maybe even better.

FROM THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS PRESS GUIDE

1994, the Patriots have experienced one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the history of sports. Now in his 20th season of ownership, Kraft has transformed one of the league’s least successful clubs into what many observers view as a model NFL franchise. In the five seasons immediately preceding his purchase (1989-93), the Patriots were a moribund team, winning just 19 of 80 games (.238 pct.) and recording the worst record in the NFL over that span. When he bought the franchise on Jan. 21, 1994, Kraft announced his intention to bring a championship to New England, a tall order considering the team’s previous success rate.

But under Kraft’s leadership, the Patriots have won more division titles (13), conference crowns (6) and Super Bowl championships (3) than any other NFL team. The Patriots have made six Super Bowl appearances since Kraft purchased the team, a period during which no other NFL franchise has earned more than four berths. In Kraft’s 20 seasons, the Patriots qualified for the playoffs 15 times, more than doubling the franchise’s accomplishments during its first 34 seasons.

The Patriots have 238 wins overall under Robert Kraft. He has produced more victories than every other Patriots owner combined. Under Kraft, the Patriots are 238-114 overall since he purchased the team in 1994. Kraft’s predecessors in the owner’s office went 225-276-9 in the 34 years prior to his purchase of the team.

HIGHEST WINNING PERCENTAGE IN MAJOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTS SINCE 1994 

In the early 1990s, the Patriots seemed destined for relocation until Robert Kraft’s purchase of the team rejuvenated local interest. In 1991, the season ticket base was just 17,635, barely enough to support the club. Now, the season tickets are capped and more than 50,000 fans are on a season ticket waiting list. The Patriots have sold out 214 consecutive home games, including playoff and preseason games (dating back to the 1994 season opener).

PATRIOTS A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY UNDER KRAFT

Kraft’s winning percentage with the Patriots (.675) since taking over the team in 1994 is not only the highest of any current NFL owner, it ranks second all-time among owners with at least 10 years of experience, trailing only Lee Joannes, who compiled a .698 winning percentage with the Green Bay Packers from 1930- 1947.

The Patriots have been a model of consistency at the coaching position under Robert Kraft. With Bill Belichick in his 14th season as head coach, the Patriots have had just three head coaches since 1994, the fewest number by far of any AFC East team.

Since Robert Kraft’s purchase of the team in 1994, the Patriots have drafted more Pro Bowl players than any other team.

QUARTERBACK STABILITY

Over the last 20 years, the Patriots have had 14 quarterbacks on their active roster. Of this group, only four quarterbacks have started a regular season or post-season game for the club, and only two (Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe) have started on Opening Day, the fewest of any AFC East team in both categories.

COVER BOYS

Kraft’s success as an owner has brought the Patriots a great increase in national recognition. Prior to Kraft’s ownership, the Patriots had been featured on the cover of just four issues of Sports Illustrated (1966, 1977, 1981, and 1986). Since 1994, New England has graced the cover a total of 27 times, including 17 that feature Tom Brady alone.

PATRIOTS HOME DOMINANCE

Since the Patriots opened Gillette Stadium in 2002, they have celebrated more regular season and postseason wins than any other team in the NFL. The Patriots have the highest point differential at home, rank first in points scored and third in points allowed at Gillette Stadium.

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Come what may Saturday in Denver, we have thoroughly enjoyed this current Patriots football season. Given what they had to work with, it shall be recorded as the best coaching and quarterbacking jobs of the brilliant, respective careers of Belichick and Brady.

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“To render jaded outlooks speechless makes love the loudest “talker” of all.” — THE PLANET, 2014.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

18 Responses to “PLANET DOES PCTV … GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE BAKER TO VISIT PITTSFIELD … BELICHICK, BRADY, KRAFT DELIVER DYNASTIC CONSISTENTCY UNPRECEDENTED IN PARITY-DRIVEN NFL”

  1. scott
    January 16, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Go Patriots they have some nice secret weapons that have been filling in for the injury roster. Dont forget we won last time we played the Broncos it’ll be patriots and seahawks in the sb unless the DB defensive line can pressure Brady but then again he’ll just hand it off to Blount id like to see them maintain the running game and throw it when the opportunities present themselves. Theres more to it than Brady vs Manning anyone who thinks that is doing themselves a terrible service.

    Theres way better places to eat and meet other than Zuccos yuck! Thats funny I referenced them the other day in a comment. Id rather spend the money at guido’s but it is nice to dine out once in a while.

  2. Still wondering
    January 16, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    The past 20 years have been a great time to be a New England sports fan and especially since the year 2000. Go Pats!

  3. Rivetor
    January 16, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    DV you looked and sounded great last nite with PM and Jlo. Agreee with still wondering a great time to be a Boston fan. Pats have had a super year irregardless of what happens Sunday but I think Pats will win a close one and take Seattle in SB.

    • Dave
      January 16, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

      Wondering this…. How do make an hour of Dan Valenti on television unwatchable? No need to wonder anymore. The lack of energy by the hosts and their obvious lack of preparation or guts to ask any probing questions fell flat for me. I am positive if the host/guest roles were reversed not only would it have been watchable, we all may have learned something. Kudos Dan, it gave me a better appreciation of what you used to do. This is also why I prefer listening to Howard Stern interview someone over anyone else.

      • Tim Bartini
        January 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

        Dave. Howard Stern is crewed , twisted and sick. But I love his show! Nothing fake about him.

        • Edconnect
          January 16, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

          Crude

      • raider50
        January 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

        bababooey

      • Gene
        January 16, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

        I remember when DV had his radio show some used to call him the Howard Stern of the Berkshires…wasn’t sure if it was a compliment of a diss. Like TB said of Stern, nothing fake about DV

  4. joetaxpayer
    January 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Only time will tell, can’t see any AFC team winning Super Bowl. Both NFC teams have superior defense’s.

  5. C. Trzcinka
    January 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Nobody was more consistent than the 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills who went to four Super Bowls in a row.

    • skier1
      January 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      And consistently didn’t win

  6. Joe Blow
    January 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    I believe all major professional sports are fixed and have been for many years. With the huge amounts of money involved there is no doubt corruption and fraud. I could never understand why my friends would waste so much time watching that crap.

    • scott
      January 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

      Its not fixed but they are all destroying their bodies and minds. See I dont have cable so I watch over at friends and family and have a glass of wine or two and cook good food like salmon bakes and homemade Pizza. For us its social and not essential that I see every single game. The amount of money thats involved is insane. It fails to reason how poverty still exists. It makes me wonder if a lot of impoverished people are there by their own doing or is life fixed as well?

  7. Nota
    January 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    This just in. The Valenti thumbs down critique of the movie Wolf of Wall Street, has received nominations for Best Picture, Leading Actor, Director Supporting Actor. Haven’t seen the movie yet because of the Planet’s thumbs down, somebody is way off on this one.

    • dusty
      January 17, 2014 at 2:04 am #

      I saw it. The cursing and sex was essential to the plot. Go see it. Leave the kids at home.

  8. amandaWell
    January 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Heard, Consider This’ is up for an Emmy.

  9. Silence Dogood
    January 16, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    They lived in Pittsfield but had a rented car. They were speeding on 2nd St. Who was chasing them and why. What were they trying to get away from?

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

      THE PLANET has answers to these questions. Tune in tomorrow morning.