EJ Manuel And Other Draft Day 1 Thoughts

The Buffalo Bills surprised the football world last night when they selected EJ Manuel with the 16th pick in the NFL draft, making him the first and only quarterback drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.  While Manuel wasn’t the #1 quarterback on most people’s draft boards (although he was on top guru Mike Mayock’s board) it does make a lot more sense when you step back and think about it.

New Bills QB EJ Manuel

New Bills QB EJ Manuel

For starters Manuel is the most comparable to the big quarterbacks taken in the past few drafts.  Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Colin Kapernick, Russell Wilson, even Andrew Luck are more comparable to Manuel than to Nassib or Barkley.  There were also arm strength questions with Barkley and Nassib and that’s is an issue for a quarterback who needs to play home games in Buffalo in November and December and, God-willing, January.  Manuel has good arm strength.  He also has great accuracy on short, quick routes which is what you’ll likely see a lot of from the Bills this coming season.  Also I think some of the shock from the national media was born out of sheer laziness.  Earlier in the week I heard Mel kiper Jr. cite Ryan Nassib as the most over-valued potential first round pick.  Nassib of course wasn’t picked in the first round but it was almost as if Kiper was resigned to the fact that Doug Marrone was simply going to stay put and take his college QB.  Not that the media needs to spend a lot of time thinking about what the Bills are going to do but the spitefulness of being so far off is a bit silly.

Manuel built a solid resume at Florida State

Manuel built a solid resume at Florida State

As for my own opinion of the Manuel pick I am cautiously optimistic.  Over the course of watching the NCAA over the past few seasons I have to say that Manuel was the most impressive guy to me in my very unprofessional opinion from watching NCAA football games over the last few years.  I like that he played at a big program down in FLA (just like the Bills’ last franchise QB) and I like that he’s 4-0 in bowl games.  After seeing all of the interviews and press conferences since the pick you’ve also got to be impressed with how this kid handles himself.  He seems like he should have a good handle on the locker room and the huddle.

As for other picks that I liked in the first round – I liked the Steelers grabbing Jarvis Jones at 17, The Colts taking German pass rusher Bjorn Werner at 23 and the Ravens replacing Ed Reed with Matt Elam at #32.  Then of course there was another one of those grand larceny trades made by Bill Belichick and the Pats.  Tonight it will be interesting to see where some of the big names leftover go.  As far as the Bills go I would look for WR, MLB and TE.

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Marathon Monday

Almost exactly one week ago I did the same thing that I had done every 3rd Monday of April for 5 of the past 6 years.  I woke up bright and early, got ready, left the house before 9:00 AM and hopped on a train at Packard’s Corner in Allston to head down to the Hynes Convention Center station.  From there I walked up to LIR on 903 Boylston Street and took a seat at the bar to watch the marathon and the Red Sox game just as I have in each of those years before.

The Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon

I wasn’t close to the blasts when they went off.  I was likely walking towards Commonwealth Avenue on Hereford Street when it happened.  I did not hear or feel the blasts (my level of intoxication at the time likely contributed to that) but as soon as I turned onto Comm. Ave. police cars and motorcycles were already racing to the scene.  I walked down to Kenmore and before crossing the street to go into Bertucci’s, and after a barrage of text messages made me wise to what had happened, I had to stop for the ambulances that were already starting transporting victims of the attack, not 10 minutes since the attack had taken place.

Unfortunately the perpetrators of the attack took the lives of 3 people and the livelihood of many more who will be forced to live the rest of their lives with debilitating injuries caused by the attack.  But what they did last Monday was not just an attack on our people or even on our freedom.  It was an attack on our tradition.  Every 3rd Monday in April.  That day has become more than just a marathon to the people of Boston.  Since 1968 the Red Sox have played a home game at Fenway Park at 11 AM every year to coincide with when the bulk of the marathon is being run outside Fenway Park.  It’s not just a drinking day, it’s a celebration.  It’s a day to spend with your friends and your family.  Many times you will see people that you haven’t seen for the entire year, by design or otherwise, down on Boylston Street drinking a beer or cheering on a friend from the sidewalk.  It’s a day to be a Bostonian.  The Patriot’s Day experience – the marathon, the Sox game, the celebration, the tradition – is as Bostonian as apple pie is American.

The events of the past week will stay with me forever.  I will never forget sitting in Bertucci’s watching the reports of the attack on that day, barely more than a mile from where it had taken place.  I will never forget being glued to the news watching as the investigation slowly unfolded for 3 days.  I will never forget hearing the sirens early Friday morning as policemen rushed to the aid the officers under attack in Watertown.  I will never forget the “internet manhunt” over two sleepless days led by El Presidente.  I will never forget being locked down in my home for the better part of a day and then leaving to go to the store after the lock down ended and finding half of the people of Allston out on the street.  I will never forget trying to have a peaceful beer on my porch after the lock down had ended until being interrupted by another cavalcade of sirens in the distance heading toward the final moments of the saga.  I will never forget the police guarded ambulance passing behind my house.  I will never forget the President’s speech, the Governor’s speech or Big Papi’s speech.  All of these events of the past week will both haunt and inspire me for the rest of my days.

There will be one moment when I will forget all of this though.  It will be in about a year, the 3rd Monday in April of 2014.  That day I will wake up bright and early, get ready, leave the house before 9 AM and get to that bar stool at LIR in time for the start of the marathon and the Red Sox game.  Thousands will join me in continuing their Patriots Day traditions.  Some will run, some will watch, some will sit in a bar stool and enjoy the celebration.  That’s the great thing about tradition – you can attack it but you can never really truly take it away.  And on the 3rd Monday of April next year the City of Boston will show the world that our traditions can not be broken.

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Quick Thoughts on Red Sox Game #1

The good news is that for the first time since 2010 the Red Sox started 1-0.  The better news is that for the first time since 2010 that the Red Sox will not be swept in the first series of the season.  The new look Red Sox offense put a ton of pressure on Yankees ace CC Sabathia and Jon Lester got his first opening day victory in three tries for the Red Sox.  Here are some quick, very premature thoughts on the first game of the season.

  • Lester was sharp in all but 1 inning

    Lester was sharp in all but 1 inning

    Jon Lester looked sharp in all but 1 inning but that 1 inning is a killer.  Last year the guy would just lose himself at times and that is what led to his downfall.  It happened again in the 4th inning but luckily he got it back in the 5th to finish out the start and get the win.  Lester needs to eliminate that problem inning because the bottom line is he’s piling up too many damn pitches early in the game.  He can’t rely on the bullpen all season long to clean up his messes.

  • All that being said above the Red Sox bullpen did a hell of a job cleaning up his mess.  It was an interesting strategy by Farrell to use virtually everyone but it worked out today.  Andrew Miller showed how maddening he can be by walking the first two and striking out the next two.  Bailey and Hanrahan both had some extra juice on their fastballs today, they may have been saving that stuff for the regular season.  If the guys in the back end pitch like they did today this team will be tough to beat with a lead late in games.
  • Jonny Gomes celebrate his hustle run in the 7th

    Jonny Gomes celebrate his hustle run in the 9th

    The Red Sox offense did work without Napoli or Middlebrooks doing anything.  Crazy as it sounds I’m not rushing Papi back because Jonny Gomes is a gamer.  That was a great hustle play to score on Ellsbury’s infield single in the 9th.

  • It was nice to see the Red Sox get back to basics overall.  There was no half-assing on the base paths.  Iglesias did what he had to do to get on base with a bunt single and two infield hits.  Bradley walked 3 times, which is as many times as Crawford walked ALL SEASON last year.  They worked Sabathia early and drove up the pitch count and he only lasted 5 innings.  This is the kind of thing that you saw night in and night out during the Francona years and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come this season.
  • I can’t believe I saw Jarrod Saltalamacchia walk 3 times in the same baseball game.  I’ll wait and see if it was just an aberration or if he has finally learned how to take pitches.
  • Jackass

    Jackass

    It was a great start for the Red Sox no doubt but there is one thing that can’t be denied – the Yankees lineup sucks.  Every time they started a rally they’d have a scrub like Lyle Overbay or Jayson Nix come up (or is it Lance Nix?  I’m not even sure which one it was.)  Guys like Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, even Ichiro, these guys haven’t been any good in years and they are relying on them in key spots.  You could see that Youk strike out against Bailey in the 7th coming from a mile away.  Like we haven’t had that scouting report on him for a decade.  And he’s their clean-up hitter right now.

  • Joba Chamberlain looks like a jackass with his porn stache.
  • The thing that I hate about opening day is they play the first game and you are all pumped up for baseball to be back and then they don’t play again for another day and a half.  We’ll see if the Red Sox can make it 2 for 2 Wednesday night in the Bronx.

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