The Worst Teams Of All Time Part 47. The 1990 New England Patriots

This series of articles will celebrate (or laugh at) some of the worst professional sports teams of all time. I will focus on teams within my lifetime so expect the worst from the 1970s to present day.

New England Patriots

Since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have arrived, the New England Patriots have enjoyed plenty of success in recent years. Three Super Bowl championships, five AFC conference championships, and complete dominance in the AFC East. (11 division titles.) But there was a time, before the hoodie, the model-marrying quarterback and owner Robert Kraft arrived on the scene, that the Patriots were one of the league’s biggest jokes.

How can you not trust anyone holding a shaver in his hand? Victor Kiam will go down as one of the worst owners in NFL history.

How can you not trust anyone holding a shaver in his hand? Victor Kiam will go down as one of the worst owners in NFL history.

That time would be 1990, when the Patriots were so horrible, there were persistent rumours of the franchise leaving the New England area for greener pastures. But then-owner Victor Kiam decided to keep the Patriots in Foxborough for the time being.

But that wasn’t the only problem Kiam had to deal with in 1990. In fact he had plenty of issues during his tenure in New England. None garnered bigger headlines though, than the lawsuit brought against Kiam and the Patriots by Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson. A day after the Patriots week 2 victory over the Indianapolis Colts (their only win of the season) Olson was interviewing players following a light workout session when a couple of players complained to general manager Pat Sullivan saying Olson was only there to check out the players coming out of the shower. While Sullivan saw nothing wrong with Olson’s behaviour several other players started to harass Olson. Tight end Zeke Mowatt disrobed and  for lack of a better term played with himself. Running back Robert Perryman was doing the same thing behind Olson’s back while wide receiver Michael Timpson egged his idiotic teammates while making crude comments towards Olson.

Lisa Olson as part of the media scrum interviewing Marc Wilson.

Lisa Olson as part of the media scrum interviewing Marc Wilson.

When Olson complained about the experience to Kiam, calling the experience a “mind rape”, Kiam allegedly responded with class and dignity by calling her a “classic bitch.” Kiam denied using crude language in an apology in a Boston newspaper. He did admit to call her a “classy bitch.” Oh those 1990 Patriots. Such esteemed wordsmiths and progressive thinking gentlemen.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue stepped in and ordered an investigation that was to be conducted by former Watergate scandal prosecutor Philip Heyman. When the report was released, it was revealed that Olson was ‘degraded and humiliated’ by the players. Mowatt was fined $12,500 while Perryman and Timpson were fined $5,000 each. The team was fined an additional $50,000 because management failed to act immediately.

When the report went public, Patriots fans did not treat Olson well. She was harassed by fans while covering games at Foxboro Stadium. Her tires were slashed, her apartment was robbed and she received hate mail including death threats from some Neanderthal Pats fans. Olson was transferred to Sydney, Australia by the Herald’s owner who owned two newspapers in Australia’s largest city.

The incident harmed the Patriots on the field as well. Granted, they were an awful team to begin with but the last thing they needed was a scandal that made headlines across the country which had women’s rights activists seething. But the team was horrid make no mistake about it. The next game after the Olson incident, the Patriots were throttled 41-7 by the Cincinnati Bengals. That started a 14-game losing streak that only ended because the season ended. That incident really helped the Patriots in being a horrible football team.

The biggest problem on the field for the Patriots was on offense. They couldn’t score if they were playing a junior high team. The Patriots averaged a mere 11.3 points per game. Homer Simpson’s IQ score is higher than that. (allegedly) One problem was instability at quarterback.

Marc Wilson was never on the mark for the Patriots.

Marc Wilson was never on the mark for the Patriots.

Marc Wilson was the only signal caller that appeared in all 16 games for the Patriots, but his numbers were uninspiring to say the least. The BYU grad completed 52.5% of his pass attempts for 1,625 yards, 6 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a QB rating of 61.6. It didn’t help Wilson that his throwing arm was weaker than Applebee’s “hot sauce”.

Tommy Hodson running for his life, trying to get out of New England in 1990.

Tommy Hodson running for his life, trying to get out of New England in 1990.

Tom Hodson started six games for the Pats, completing 54.5% of his pass attempts for 968 yards, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions for a QB rating of 68.5.

Steve Grogan was a loyal servant for the Patriots. But injuries and age caught up to him in 1990.

Steve Grogan was a loyal servant for the Patriots. But injuries and age caught up to him in 1990.

Veteran Steve Grogan started the first four games for the Patriots that season, and was the quarterback of record in the Patriots lone win that season. But injuries forced Grogan to the sidelines and his eventual retirement at the end of the season.

Irving Fryar was a solid receiver for New England. But he didn't have the support.

Irving Fryar was a solid receiver for New England. But he didn’t have the support.

Irving Fryar was the best offensive player on the Patriots in 1990, but because of the quarterback carousel, he didn’t put up huge numbers. The Nebraska product did lead the team with 54 receptions for 856 yards and 4 touchdowns, but he couldn’t produce anymore because he had little help.

Hart Lee Dykes didn't have the heart to make an impact in New England.

Hart Lee Dykes didn’t have the heart to make an impact in New England.

The rest of the receiving corps featured luminaries such as Hart Lee Dykes (great name), Marv Cook (who was pretty good to be honest), Greg McMurtry, Cedric Jones, Eric Sievers and two of the manly men who paraded their shortcomings around Lisa Olson, Mowatt and Timpson. For the record, Mowatt recorded 6 receptions for 67 yards in 10 games for the Patriots. That is usually an average game for starting tight ends. Timpson registered 5 receptions for 91 yards in 5 games. Besides being complete douches around Olson, they were crappy football players. A double disaster.

 

John Stephens had a difficult time running the football in 1990.

John Stephens had a difficult time running the football in 1990.

The running game wasn’t very effective for the Patriots either. John Stephens led the team with 808 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Stephens averaged only 3.8 yards per carry ranking him 31st in the NFL. Part of the problem was the Patriots used the Air Coryell attack on offense which limited the amount of carries Stephens would have.

Robert Perryman was a jerk to Lisa Olson and a mediocre running back.

Robert Perryman was a jerk to Lisa Olson and a mediocre running back.

The Patriots also used Marvin Allen, George Adams, Mosi Tatupu and Perryman in the back field to little or no success. Perryman had 97 yards in 7 games in 1990, before he and his “mini-me” were shown the door. I’ve seen a 1981 Pontiac Acadian go further than Perryman did on the ground.

Defensively, the Patriots weren’t much better. The Patriots were second-last in points allowed, surrendering 446 points or an average of 27.8 points per game. Only the Cleveland Browns were worse.

Run defense was a massive problem. The Patriots had the worst run defense in 1990, as opponents bullied an average of 167.3 yards per game. The Patriots wouldn’t have stopped Rob Ford going into rehab at that rate.

Andre Tippett is a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame. But he couldn't save the Patriots in 1990.

Andre Tippett is a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame. But he couldn’t save the Patriots in 1990.

The Pats best defensive players, Andre Tippett (who is deservedly in the Hall of Fame and merited respect for surviving with this group of yahoos), Maurice Hurst, Ronnie Lippett and Fred Marion were all better pass defenders. So offenses just ran the ball on most plays, passing only to keep the Patriots D honest.

This is pretty close to what Foxboro Stadium looked like in 1990 on game day.

This is pretty close to what Foxboro Stadium looked like in 1990 on game day.

For the most part, Patriots fans didn’t bother to show up at Foxboro Stadium. And why should they. The team was terrible, the stadium was old and antiquated and the weather was miserable. No day described the 1990 Patriots season better than December 15. A home game against Washington on a Saturday afternoon. This was the Patriots only appearance on national television that season and they showed the entire country what Patriot football was all about in 1990. The weather was brutal. Cold, snow and wind blew through Foxboro Stadium. Barely 20,000 people showed up as Washington easily defeated the hapless Pats 25-10. The next week was even worse as the Patriots suffered their worst loss of the season, a 42-7 shellacking at the hands of the New York Jets.

When the season mercifully ended, change was in order. The first casualty was head coach Rod Rust, who only lasted one season in New England. Rust was brought in as a defensive specialist but he found out rather quickly that the Patriots specialized in not playing defense.

GM Pat Sullivan was the next to go. Sullivan was a holdover from the days when his father, Billy Sullivan owned the team. But new ownership wanted to go in a different direction.

When these moves didn’t work and with the possibility of going bankrupt, Kiam decided to sell the team to James Orthwein in 1992. Orthwein planned to move the franchise to St. Louis but the NFL blocked the relocation. So Orthwein sold the team to Robert Kraft in 1994. Kraft brought stability to the franchise and the team slowly became a contender. When Kraft hired Bill Belichick in 2000 to coach the team, the Patriots were on the verge. Eleven years after the disastrous 1990 season, the Patriots won their first Super Bowl.

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973

 

 

 

 

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Germany vs Argentina World Cup Final Preview

FIFA World Cup

After a month of upsets, shocks, wonderful goals and some bewildering moments, the World Cup will reach its zenith on Sunday afternoon. 32 countries vied for the biggest prize in sports but only two, Germany and Argentina are left to see who will claim it.

There is no shortage of history between these two nations. The 1986 World Cup Final was a terrific fixture that featured the legendary Diego Maradona, donning the vintage blue and white strip. Germany overcame a 2-0 deficit to draw level at the Azteca in Mexico City, before Jorge Burruchaga slid home the winner in the 83rd minute, to give Argentina its second World Cup title.

Four years later, the two met in Rome in the final. It was a dreadful, cynical affair, filled with fouls and negative tactics. Argentina’s Pedro Monzon was the first player in history to be shown a red card in the final. Germany managed the only goal of the match, thanks to Andreas Brehme’s penalty conversion in the 85th minute.

The last World Cup saw these two sides meet again, this time in the quarterfinals. It was all Germany, who routed Argentina 4-0, thanks to Miroslav Klose’s brace, as well as goals from Thomas Muller and Arne Friedrich.

Tactics When Argentina Is Attacking:

Lionel Messi

Argentina’s attack has centred around Lionel Messi. Perhaps the best player in the world, the Barcelona superstar has had an excellent tournament, scoring four times while being a creative force. There is no doubt that as Messi goes, so does Argentina. You cannot stop him, only contain him.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Germany may have the answer though. The holding midfielder pairing of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira have been outstanding for Die Mannschaft. They have effectively clogged down the centre of the pitch, with tough but fair challenges. A disciplined duo, Schweinsteiger and Khedira will be asked to mark Messi when the magician receives the ball deep. (Messi has been lying deeper in this tournament. Expect that trend to continue, when he rejoins Barcelona in the fall.)

Mats Hummels

If Messi can get past the midfielders, Germany have centre full-backs that are a fortress. Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng aren’t the fleetest defenders, but they are a stern pairing that don’t let much get past them. Both are a physical presence that can intimidate mere mortals. Messi is better than mere mortals, but he will be challenged to win crosses in the air against these two behemoths. Messi might get past them with his pace, but both Hummels and Boateng are terrific at playing the position and won’t get caught that easily.

Manuel Neuer

Then there is the issue of beating the keeper. Manuel Neuer has been arguably the best keeper in the tournament. The Bayern Munich goalie uses his long arms and athletic ability to thwart potential scoring opportunities. Messi will have plenty of work just to reach Neuer. It still might not be enough.

Ezequiel Lavezzi

Support for Messi is vital so the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain need to step up. Lavezzi has yet to open his account at this World Cup, while Higuain only has one goal to his credit. Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella moved Lavezzi to the right side, using more as a winger in their semifinal fixture versus Holland. It was Lavezzi’s best game of the tournament as he looked awake for the first time in Brazil.

Gonzalo Higuain

Higuain did score the lone goal for Argentina in the quarterfinals against Belgium, but was invisible in the semifinals against Holland before being replaced by Sergio Aguero.

Philipp Lahm

Higuain will not have an easy time in the final, as Philipp Lahm will be opposite him throughout. The Bayern Munich right back as been simply brilliant since Joachim Low moved him back to his natural position in the quarterfinals. Lahm spent some time in the central midfield, but he is best suited to defending the flank, while going on overlapping runs to join the attack. Higuain will need to track back, and help his defenders when Lahm goes forward.

Aguero did see time on the pitch in the semifinals, but he probably won’t be fit enough to play a full 90 minutes or more if required. If Higuain or Lavezzi are having a difficult game, expect the Manchester City to come on as a substitute.

Javier Mascherano

A weakness for Argentina is a lack of attacking midfield options. There is no talismanic figure at the centre of the pitch for La Albiceleste, leaving Messi to do all the work. Javier Mascherano is an exceptional holding midfielder, but he isn’t keen on going forward on attack.

The absence of Angel di Maria hurts Argentina. The Real Madrid midfielder suffered a thigh injury against Belgium in the quarterfinals, and is likely to miss the final. Maxi Rodrigues could be used as an attacking midfielder, but the chances of the 33-year old lasting a full 90 minutes is slim. Enzo Perez and Lucas Biglia are better defensive midfielders, but lack the offensive spark Argentina will need.

Marcos Rojo

Marcos Rojo can move from the back line into attacking mode. The Sporting Lisbon left back can go on overlapping runs when needed, but that could leave Argentina vulnerable on the flank where Thomas Muller sits. Germany are a strong counterattacking side, so Rojo will need to use good judgement on when to go forward.

Tactics When Germany Is Attacking:

Everyone saw what Germany did to Brazil in the semifinals. Die Mannschaft crushed the hosts 7-1, using brutal yet efficient force to finish virtually every scoring opportunity. Germany took advantage of acres of space conceded by Brazil to calmly yet coldly destroy A Selecao within a matter of minutes.

Thomas Muller

Thomas Muller leads Germany with five goals in the competition, one astray from Colombia’s James Rodriguez for the Golden Boot. The Bayern Munich forward/midfielder/winger is a swift, efficient poacher, who can win balls in the air, or use his dribbling technique to defeat defenders. As mentioned earlier, the matchup between Muller and Rojo is one to watch. Can the Argentine keep his head, and stay back to mark the dangerous Muller? Or will Rojo get caught upfield, leaving Muller space to create or finish scoring threats? This could decide who wins the World Cup.

Miroslav Klose

Miroslav Klose is the new king of World Cup goal-scoring. The Lazio striker scored his 16th goal in the World Cup finals against Brazil, breaking the record, formerly held by Brazil’s Ronaldo. Klose is the classic poacher. He won’t beat you with dazzling skill, or mesmerizing talent, but he has the instinct to find open space, get to the ball and put it into the back of the net. Simple? Yes. But the simplest way is often the most effective.

Ezequiel Garay

Argentina’s two centre-backs, Ezequiel Garay and Martin Demichelis will have their hands full with Klose. Because Klose is good at finding space, zonal marking might be the answer to defuse that threat. Garay and Demichelis would be advised to guard space inside the penalty area, instead of straight man-marking Klose. Mascherano could fall back and help in preventing Klose getting free as well. But that might leave space for the German midfielders to swoop in. This will be a challenging task for Argentina.

Toni Kroos

Speaking of Germany’s midfielders, Toni Kroos was named Man of the Match against Brazil and with good reason. The Bayern Munich midfielder scored twice, while simply tearing apart Brazil’s soul with thunderous attempts on goal, or pinpoint perfect passes. Expect Mascherano to try to prevent Kroos from making a serious impact on the match. This will be another matchup to keep a close eye on.

Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil has started all of Germany’s knockout stage matches, and should be on the team sheet for the final. The Arsenal winger was wreaking havoc in the semifinal, as his darting runs and creative vision ripped Brazil to shreds. Ozil has been favoured over Mario Gotze by Germany coach Joachim Low and that should continue in the final.

Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta will be responsible for containing Ozil on the flank. The Manchester City right back isn’t very mobile, but will use his guile and positioning in an attempt to repeal Ozil’s advances. But the lack of pace may hurt Zabaleta. Ozil will use his superior speed to blow past Zabaleta if there is open space. Germany would be wise to take advantage of this.

Don’t expect Schweinsteiger and Khedira to push forward that often in the final as they will be busy, trying to contain Messi. However, if Messi drops back to deep because of a lacking Argentine midfield, it may green-light Schweinsteiger and Khedira to go move forward and penetrate the Argentine defence. But for the most part, expect the German duo to lie deep and pass the ball up to the attacking midfielders so they can create.

The overlapping runs of Lahm could cause a disturbance for Argentina, but the German captain will adhere to his defensive responsibilities first. Still, don’t be shocked to see Lahm charging down the flank to pursue a possible threat. Tracking back will be necessary for Argentina’s wingers, but they should be ready to counterattack if Lahm is caught. (Which is rare)

Sergio Romero

Argentina do have a strong goalie. Sergio Romero has been superb between the sticks. The Sampdoria keeper has not allowed a goal in normal time during the knockout stage. Romero shone brightly during the penalty shootout against Holland, making two terrific saves. Romero will be under pressure against the Germans, but he’s not a bad choice to guard the back line.

Possible Formations and Starting XI:

Germany, 4-2-3-1: Neuer: Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Howedes: Schweinsteiger, Khedira: Muller, Kroos, Ozil: Klose.

Argentina, 4-3-3: Romero: Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo: Rodrigues, Mascherano, Perez: Lavezzi, Messi, Higuain.

Prediction:

With Germany’s destruction of Brazil still fresh in everyone’s memories, it is impossible to pick against them. Sure, Messi might have the match of his life and prove to be the greatest player of his generation. Argentina are more tactically sound than Brazil, so don’t expect 7-1 to happen again. But there are too many concerns about Argentina’s midfield. Not enough attacking options leaves Messi alone far too often. While he is a truly great player, one man does not make a team and Messi needs help. Higuain and Lavezzi are too inconsistent at the best of times and Mascherano will be needed to defend. The Germans have many options going forward, but are disciplined enough to take care of matters inside their own penalty area. It won’t be a blowout, but everything favours Germany here. Germany wins 2-0, and will leave Brazil with their fourth World Cup title.

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973

 

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Let’s Not Call It Good-Bye…Let’s Call It “Smell Ya Later.”

Jsportsfan:

So long old friend. We may meet again sometime down the road.

Originally posted on Sports Blog Movement:

lisa-simpson-and-nelson-muntz-5612

Some things it seems aren’t meant to last forever.  America’s quadrennial interest in soccer, pre-teen romances, and sports blogs are three things we all know can have a life-span shorter than a Christian Scientist with a severed artery.  By this time next week, the end of the World Cup will relegate soccer to that same American sports broom closet as the Olympics, the relationship between Lisa Simpson and Nelson Muntz will exists only in re-runs, and Sports Blog Movement will no longer show up in your news feed.

This incarnation of SBM started in January of 2012, the idea being one site dedicated to to cross-promoting the works of independent sports bloggers. We raised up against the iron-mauled sports blog tyranny of the ESPNs and the Bleacher Reports of the world.  After two and a half years, over 1,100 posts, and over a dozen different contributors, it time to realize…

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