Sunday Mail: Is Shane Vereen Utilized Properly And Enough In The Patriots Offense?

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Am I the only person in New England that thinks Shane Vereen needs more consistent touches? I get that Stevan Ridley is a better pure runner, yadda yadda. But I feel like we’ve had this guy for four years and aside from that Texans playoff game back in 2012, we’ve never really taken the training wheels off. I’d like to finally see if he’s more like Kevin Faulk or Marshall Faulk! Thoughts?
— Smitty

I’m with you, Smitty. After a healthy Gronk (don’t you dare say that’s an oxymoron!), Vereen is probably Tom Brady’s most dynamic offensive weapon. He’s been held back by injuries, and he was a bit redundant with Danny Woodhead for a couple of seasons, which is why he never had more than two catches in a game until last year. But when he’s healthy and utilized he tends to deliver performances where you say, “OK, he has to get the ball more.” He’s never had more than 14 carries in a game — that happened in last season’s opener, when he ran for 101 yards against the Bills. He also had his high of 21 touches on offense that day. His high in catches is 12 — on 17 targets! — for 153 yards last year against the Browns. There’s no doubt they need to use him more, certainly more than they did against Miami. Seems like 18-20 touches would be ideal. It’s not asking too much, even if they do have durability concerns.

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Are the Bruins going to pull a Red Sox and not be good this year?
— Adam

Nah, they’ll be good. Very good, again. I’m curious how they’ll replace Jarome Iginla’s 30 goals. We tend to hear more about Shawn Thornton leaving than we do about a first-line wing and one of the premier scorers in league history. But they were third in the league in goals last year, so it’s hardly a dire situation he left behind.

They’re at a similar place to the Patriots. There’s an accomplished core in place — Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, a healthy Dennis Seidenberg — and it’s all about what they do in the playoffs. That’s a pretty good place to be, even with the occasional premature exit from the playoffs. I suppose we could worry about Chara, the player around whom this roster and style is structured, slowing down (he turns 38 in March), but we also have to remember he was hurt in the Canadiens series. I wouldn’t expect a big dropoff given his dedication to conditioning.

Chad, why was Josh Boyce cut? Didn’t learn the playbook? Doesn’t run routes correctly or precisely? Laziness? Off-field issues?
— Reggie

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Seems like the common reason most players are cut: he wasn’t quite good enough at football right now. Maybe he’ll improve on the practice squad. There’s no doubt the kid can run — heard a little bit last year that they thought he might become a weapon as a speedy slot receiver some day. But he hasn’t shown much beyond that speed. I thought expectations for him were a little much, probably because there’s so much information available on everyone that gets drafted nowadays and, hey, look, this Boyce is fast!. But it’s not like he was a first-rounder. He was a fourth-round pick, 102nd overall. They’ve had very few hits in that range in franchise history. The last No. 102 pick they had was a defensive back named Derrick Beasley in ’87 who didn’t make the roster.

Nobody is discussing that Aaron Dobson actually had a more productive season as a receiver than Cordarrelle Patterson did. He’s the newest shiny object everyone didn’t know about 5 minutes ago but is an expert on now.
— Easley

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That’s fair, though Patterson didn’t exactly have Tom Brady throwing to him, either. I was surprised Patterson averages just 10.3 yards per catch in his career. He’s talked about like he’s Stanley Morgan circa 1981 or something. Of course, that 17.3 yards per carry average isn’t too shabby. I don’t think we’ll ever know how close the Pats were to drafting him — maybe it’ll be a footnote in one of the volume of football books Belichick had better write when he’s done coaching — but I doubt it was close. The knock on him is that he wasn’t exactly a devoted student of the playbook. That’s a really good way to get Brady to look you off even when you’re the first option on a play.

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Every time Darrelle Revis is lined up in zone coverage eight yards off the line of scrimmage, take a drink — what’s our blood alcohol content by halftime on Sunday? If they keep using him this way I’m going to want to be feeling it anyhow.
— JT

It’ll be higher than Patterson’s 10.4 yards per catch average last year, that’s for sure. In retrospect, everything about their defensive gameplan against Miami was puzzling. Having Revis giving Mike Wallace the Chris Canty Memorial Please Don’t Toast Me Eight-Yard Cushion was at the top of the list.

I’d like to know your thoughts on Joe Castiglione’s performance this year — i appreciate his consistency, to some extent, but I feel like the Red Sox should have a more authoritative and substantial voice on the mic for radio broadcasts.
— Warrior

They do. It’s Dave O’Brien. Hey, Castiglione has never been one of those velvet-voiced guys, and I think he’s become more slanted toward the Red Sox as he’s gotten older. (I rarely trust their evaluation of close calls, for instance.) The Joe Maddon admiration also gets to be a little much. But he’s easy enough to listen to, doesn’t do a lot of shtick other than Can You Believe It?, has three decades of first-hand institutional knowledge, and at this point has nostalgic value to a couple of generations of fans.

I think a lot of the backlash against Roger Goodell in light of the Ray Rice incident is a fed-up reaction to what has been his constant hypocrisy and inconsistencies. Sure, there would have been backlash regardless, but it’s all coming back to him ten times worse than it would have had he not acted like a self-righteous hypocrite these past eight years. He has always come off as self-absorbed, power-hungry, hypocritical and overall, an awful human being- and he has become worse with each passing season (also a reflection of the greedy, awful owners he represents). Goodell talked a big game when he took over, like he was the saving grace riding in to town to deliver swift justice to all those who dared tarnish the shield. But for eight years now, we have been delivered: inconsistencies in punishments, hypocrisy and inconsistency in dealing with player safety (the concussion issue for one), strong-arming networks into doing the league’s bidding, labor strife, the referee lockout over their flipping pensions and constant money grabs. Had he, say, been humble and handled things graciously, he could probably have survived this latest incident. My point is, I don’t think he can possibly survive this and it’s not just because how awfully he handled this once incident – it’s because this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Again, this also all reflects on the owners he represents but still, he is the NFL’s principal representative and he has failed miserably.
— Dan

Amen, Dan. I’m convinced he suggested the headline to this stupid Time article.

Until next week, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please.

Given that today’s column first went up before, you know, it was written, I’d say this works as beautifully as the song itself.

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