Former members of the New England Patriots can be found everywhere on the airwaves and internet as football analysts. Which one does the best job at offering intelligent and useful insight and viewpoints for fans of the game? In my opinion the ranking goes like this:
1. Matt Chatham
He’s certainly not the most well known but as of right now I would rank Matt Chatham as the best former Patriot football analyst out there. The Chatham Report is published every Tuesday and Friday in the Boston Herald and he can also be seen and heard as a regular guest on NESN, Comcast SportsNet and WEEI. Chatham has a knack for breaking down critical plays in a manner that even novice fans can understand while at the same time not dumbing it down for more sophisticated fans. Best of all he’s not afraid to go against conventional wisdom or follow the crowd, pandering for higher ratings. His viewpoints are a big reason why I find WEEI’s pre-game radio show to be much better than the ‘official’ pre-game show on 98.5.
2. Eric Mangini
I realize that it is sacrilege within Patriot Nation to say anything positive about Judas, but the fact is that Eric Mangini does an excellent job of taking complex football schemes and explaining what happens in easily understood terms for a mass audience for espn. Best of all he does not get caught up in the yuck it up hijacks that many of those he is forced to work with are so fond of, even if it makes him seem less personable by comparison. My one complaint is that the suits in Bristol seem convinced that the attention span of those who watch is equal to the length of a standard television commercial, which means he can never get that far in depth before some clown like Trey Wingo interrupts him. He’s best on NFL32 as that show tends to be more X’s and O’s than on any of the other shows that the world wide leader has him appear on.
3. Steve Grogan
The former quarterback grades the team and breaks down what happened after every game on Wednesdays with an interview which can be heard on The Morning Buzz and a transcript which can be found on PatsFans.com. It’s really great insight from the former player which unfortunately seems to fly under the radar and not noticed by many. I just wish we could read and hear his thoughts a bit more often.
4. Troy Brown
Troy Brown can be seen on Comcast SportsNet New England and also pops up as a guest elsewhere, such as WEEI. Brown does a good job of balancing being objective without being critical just to stir the pot. Here’s an example of his thoughts with his midterm grades for the Patriots.
5. Heath Evans
The former fullback appears on the NFL Network and does a good job of telling it like it is without being opinionated for the sole purpose of stirring the pot. At times that will rub fans of certain teams or players the wrong way but it’s really a breath of fresh air in comparison to people like Jon Gruden who never say anything bad about anyone.
6. Tedy Bruschi
When Tedy first started working in Bristol he came across as an unabashed Patriots homer. In discussion questions are still often directed to him prefaced by ‘your Patriots’ which makes me wonder how much objectivity we are getting, or if the producers are setting him up to give one specific point of view. Sometimes he can give great insight but other times he is Captain Obvious, which may be in large part due to espn’s desire to reach out to the larger audience of casual fans rather than focusing on more hard core NFL fans.
7. Rodney Harrison
Similar to Bruschi, Rodney Harrison started out as a big Pats homer when he first appeared on camera but has pulled back from that standpoint quite a bit since then. He is certainly capable of some keen insight but NBC tends to use him from more of a mile-high view than with the type of detailed analysis that people like Matt Chatham and Eric Mangini offer. Unfortunately we only get to see and hear from him for about an hour on Sunday nights on Football Night In America; NBC is pretty much limited to the views of Mike Florio on daily shows on the NBC Sport Network, and on the web on Pro Football Talk.
8. Willie McGinest
Willie can come through with some worthwhile candid opinions but he appears all too infrequently on the NFL Network to be rated any higher than this spot.
9. Matt Light
I am confident the articulate and humorous former left tackle will rise on this list in the near future but we need to see and hear a lot more from him first.
10. Jermaine Wiggins
He’s on the radio with Felger and Mazz; ’nuff said.
11. Ross Tucker
I have to rate Tucker the lowest of all former Patriot analysts. It doesn’t seem like he puts a whole lot of thought into his viewpoints, often overlooking vital counterpoints, yet comes across as if they are not open for debate. To me it just seems like much of what he says is nothing more than taking a controversial opinion for the sake of stirring the pot in order to generate a response. Tucker has done work for Sports Illustrated and espn in the past, and is now part of the NBC Sports Network.
Three others worth mentioning:
John Lynch was only with the Patriots for a few weeks in the preseason before Bill Belichick convinced him it was time to retire, but he is still technically an ex-Patriot. He does a good job teamed with Dick Stockton as an analyst for NFC games on Fox.
Christian Fauria is primarily a college football analyst for the NBC Sports Network; he also shows up occasionally on espn and WEEI.
Doug Flutie is also a college football analyst and can be seen on Saturdays on NBC.
I don’t follow college football all that closely but from what I have seen Flutie and Fauria are both doing a good job with their analysis.
This Day In Patriots History
November 2, 1969:
The Patriots pitched a shut out over the Houston Oilers, 24-0 at Alumni Stadium. Ron Sellers was the offensive star of the day with two touchdown catches (25 yards, 43 yards) and finished with 124 yards receiving. Carl Garrett averaged 6.7 yards per carry, rushing for 94 yards on 14 carries and Mike Taliaferro was a very efficient 12-for-22 for 191 yards and the two touchdown passes. On defense CB Daryl Johnson returned a fumble 32 yards for the only touchdown of his pro football career to put the Pats up by 17 at halftime, while Don Webb and John Charles both came up with interceptions off Pete Beathard. The win was the first of Clive Rush‘s short lived pro football coaching career, after starting the season with seven consecutive losses.
November 2, 1975:
Ray Hamilton returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a ten point third quarter lead but the Pats were unable to hold on and the Cardinals won 24-17 at Busch Memorial Stadium. Terry Metcalf, who had already returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown, ran for two more scores in the 4th quarter for the comeback victory for St. Louis. The Cardinals defense made things rough for Steve Grogan, who completed just 14 of 34 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown (to Randy Vataha) and was picked off twice.
November 2, 1980:
The Patriots down the Jets 34-21 at Schaefer Stadium, improving their record to 34-21. Russ Francis (3 receptions, 69 yards) started things off with a 33 yard touchdown catch from Steve Grogan and after the Pats forced a Jets punt, Roland James (who also had an interception) returned the kick 75 yards for a touchdown. The next Pats drive stalled in the red zone but a John Smith field goal put the Pats up 17-0 at the end of the first quarter. Stanley Morgan (5 receptions, 84 yards) then caught a 9-yard TD pass from Grogan and early in the second quarter the Pats were up by 24. Don Calhoun rushed for 50 yards on just 11 carries, Horace Ivory ran for a touchdown, and Tim Fox and Mike Hawkins both also had interceptions of Richard Todd passes.
November 2, 1986:
New England defeats Atlanta 25-17 at Sullivan Stadium for their third straight win in what would end up being a seven game winning streak. Tony Collins had 79 yards receiving, including a 26-yard touchdown from Tony Eason (263 yards passing) that gave the Pats a one point halftime lead. Irving Fryar‘s 59-yard punt return put the Pats up 19-10 after three quarters and then Tony Franklin kicked his third and fourth field goal to give the Patriots a 15-point lead. Atlanta’s Gerald Riggs scored on his second one-yard run of the day to pull the Falcons within eight but the Patriots held on for the win. Garin Veris had two and a half sacks in the game and TE Greg Hawthorne had 61 yards receiving, which was his highest total as a Patriot and second highest of his NFL career.
November 2, 1997:
Shawn Jefferson had 108 yards on four receptions, Curtis Martin ran for 104 yards and Drew Bledsoe passed for 313 yards and two touchdowns yet the Patriots lost to the Vikings 23-18 at the Metrodome.
The most critical play of the game came late in the 3rd quarter the Pats were on the Minnesota 11 with 4th down and about a foot to go. DL Derrick Alexander managed to split a double team by T Bruce Armstrong and G Max Lane to stop Curtis Martin short of a first down. The Patriots rallied late but were constantly done in by dumb penalties; on the day they were flagged eight times for 88 yards. The defense got them back in it with a good pass rush but the Vikings were ready for the Pats blitz late in the 4th quarter: Brad Johnson hit 6’3″ Cris Carter on man coverage by 5’10” Willie Clay on a corner route for a game-clinching 28-yard touchdown.
Pete Carroll‘s club was not able to take advantage of Minnesota being without their top two running backs and lost their third in a row and fourth in five games to drop to 5-4 – a bitter disappointment for a team that had gone to the Super Bowl the previous year.
November 2, 2008:
Former Patriot Adam Vinatieri‘s 52-yard field goal with 8:05 remaining turned out to be the game-winning points as the Colts beat the Pats 18-15 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Patriots ran 17 more plays from scrimmage and held the ball for nine more minutes than the Colts, but of their four long scoring drives the Pats settled for field goals three times, and WR Jabar Gaffney dropped a sure touchdown pass late in the third quarter. The killer though was when TE David Thomas drew a 15-yard dead ball penalty that pushed the Patriots out of field-goal range with 4:45 to go in the game, sealing the Pats fate.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored on a 6-yard run to put the Patriots up 12-7 in the 3rd quarter. The Pats went for two but Kevin Faulk was stopped short, although replays showed that he made it. Anthony Gonzalez cuaght his second TD of the game from Peyton Manning (21/29/254) in the corner of the end zone and then hit Reggie Wayne on the conversion to make the score 15-12. In the 4th quarter Stephen Gostkowski tied it with his third field goal of the game before Vinatieri hit on the game-winner. Randy Moss had six catches for 65 yards although he did not have a single pass thrown to him in the first half. Wes Welker caught seven passes, giving him at least six receptions in all eight games of the season; it was the longest such streak to open a season since Jacksonville’s Jimmy Smith in 2001.
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November 2, 1944:
Keyboard player Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer was born in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, England
November 2, 1967:
The Beatles finished recording of the single ‘Hello Goodbye’ at Abbey Road studios London with a second Paul McCartney bass line. The McCartney song had already been selected for the A-side for The Beatles next single, with the flip side to be John Lennon’s ‘I Am the Walrus.’
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