The premise: Coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Patriots open the 2013 season with a blowout win. Unfortunately, they get into trouble for Spygate II. As punishment, Roger Goodell orders the Patriots to fire Bill Belichick and replace him with Emmitt Smith.
This is a weekly feature that will take a newspaper reporter's perspective and follow the 2013 New England Patriots as they traverse the 2013 NFL season under Emmitt's guidance. This page will be updated every Thursday during the real 2008 NFL season.
By Steve Sanders, Boston Beat Senior Writer Friday, Nov. 15, 2013
It's been four days since news broke of Anthony Morelli's physical altercation with a small Asian boy at Nicolas Tower at Penn State, yet Roger Goodell has uncharacteristically stalled on a suspension. It was widely expected that Goodell, who usually has a quick trigger when it comes to penalizing players, would fine Morelli more than $10 million and suspend him for a few decades.
However, until yesterday, Goodell was silent on the matter, echoing similar inactions he took in Matt Jones' alleged cocaine possession in 2008.
Goodell addressed the media Wednesday afternoon and explained why he hasn't suspended Morelli yet.
"Look, I know he got into a fight and beat up a 14-year-old Asian boy who doesn't speak any English, and I don't condone that," Goodell explained. "But my fantasy team is 5-5. I'm fighting for a playoff spot, and Morelli is my starting quarterback. I drafted Tom Brady, so I had to pick up Morelli when Brady went down."
Goodell then told reporters that ESPN fantasy analyst Bo-Bo advised him not to suspend Morelli unless he's eliminated from the fantasy playoffs.
"Bo-Bo's a real sharp guy," Goodell said. "I mean, no one's perfect. He screwed up by telling me to draft Shaun Alexander in the third round, even though Alexander has been out of the league since 2009. But that's just an honest mistake. Anyone could have made that error."
Meanwhile, CBS analyst Joey Porter, who bashed Goodell five years ago for not penalizing Jones, once again criticized the NFL commissioner in his blog.
"I was writing in my diary last night that I think Goodell should suspend Morelli," Porter wrote. "Goodell is a strong man with broad shoulders, while Morelli has a very nice smile, and I love it how his eyes sparkle when he's in the huddle. But still... if Goodell suspends other players, it's only fair that he suspends that cutie Morelli."
Morelli pleaded for Goodell to ignore Porter's comments.
"I no want to be suspenders!" Morelli shouted. "No suspenders for me! Please mister conditioner do not listen to Jury! Suspenders no good!"
It appears as though the coaching duo of Brad Childress and Romeo Crennel will have Morelli under center. Whether that's a positive thing is another story.
WITHOUT EMMITT, FEUDING COACHING STAFF BEFUDDLED
By Steve Sanders, Boston Beat Senior Writer Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013
New England fans would have never imagined that they would be saying this a few weeks ago, but now it's clear: The Patriots need Emmitt Smith on the sidelines.
It seemed like the Patriots couldn't do anything right with Brad Childress and Romeo Crennel as co-head coaches. In fact, the trouble began hours prior to kickoff.
First, Childress and Crennel disagreed on what to serve for the pre-game breakfast. Childress desired to keep everything status quo, while Crennel wanted to serve only fat-free granola bars and Special K to the players, allowing him to hoard all of the pancakes, cheese omelettes, sausages, bacon, blueberry muffins, waffles and chocolate chip cookies for himself.
While that seemed innocent enough - and keep in mind that this is something Crennel clamors for every week - it was just the beginning of a disastrous day for the Patriots.
Given that Childress had some say in the defense and Crennel had just as much input in the offense, the two coaches seemed to argue about everything. Childress wanted to scrap Crennel's patented 3-4 defense and switch to an "exotic" 1-1-9 defense, featuring a nose tackle, a middle linebacker, four corners and five safeties.
"That would have worked, I tells ya," Childress said. "No one can throw if you have nine defensive backs out there! No one!"
Meanwhile, Crennel had issues with Childress' offensive game plan. Despite having Pro Bowl receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker at his disposal, Childress planned to focus his offensive attack around the newly signed Naufahu Tahi, a journeyman full back whom the Patriots signed on Wednesday.
"Yes, I know we have Randy and Wes on the roster, but come on, the Steelers aren't dumb!" Childress exclaimed. "They know we're going to Randy and Wes. But they'll never suspect us to utilize that Fahi guy! Ha! I'm a genius!"
No, Brad, you're not a genius. Tahi fumbled all three times he touched the ball, which led to three Steeler touchdowns.
Pittsburgh's first score was interesting. Mike Tomlin, who admitted after the game that he forgot his two-point conversion calculator in his hotel room, couldn't figure out whether or not to go for two up 6-0 two minutes into the first quarter. Tomlin burned three consecutive timeouts while he did the math on a scrap sheet of paper. Unfortunately, you can't even call two timeouts in a row, so Pittsburgh was penalized 10 yards. At that point, Tomlin had no choice but to kick the extra point. Luckily for Tomlin, one of his assistants retrieved his calculator before the Steelers scored again.
Meanwhile, New England's defense wasn't any better. Crennel missed three defensive drives because he had to go to the vending machine to quell his hunger. Without Emmitt and Crennel, there was no one to tell the players to go into the game. On all three instances, the Patriots had no defensive players on the field. The one-armed Ben Roethlisberger lofted easy touchdowns to Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed and Billy McMullen.
Roethlisberger was relieved to have no pressure in his face. Remember, Roethlisberger's left arm fell off when he was sacked for the 90th time in the 2011 season. He earned major respect from his teammates, playing through the rest of the game, refusing to leave and repeatedly yelling, "It's just a flesh wound!"
New England's 63-0 loss drops the team to 7-3. The Patriots are now tied with the Jets for first place in the division. Emmitt, who returned from his week of cereal training on Monday morning, wasn't concerned.
"We has... have... has... what it take," Emmitt said. "Anthony Morgan have gold in his brain. Randy Moss can catch the ball. And Jerod Mayor know how to tackle people. Now that I am back from serious training, we will beat the New York Jet and win the National Football League Conference... and maybe even the AFC East."