By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
With 2019 underway, let’s take a look at the biggest needs for each Boston sports team.
Patriots: a more consistent defense
Much has been made of the Patriots offensive woes, but not enough attention has been placed on their up-and-down defense.
If the Patriots had a sure-fire, lockdown defense, it would relieve the pressure on Tom Brady and the offense to fire on all cylinders. Brady may be the greatest quarterback of all-time, but it doesn’t seem fair to ask a 41-year-old quarterback with a knee injury to play at an elite level every single Sunday. That’s likely not a recipe for success in the playoffs. This defense will have to deliver when it counts, or the Patriots will fall short of another Lombardi.
An aging John Elway won his Super Bowls with an elite running game and a strong defense. Peyton Manning was carried to his final Super Bowl by his elite defense. Brady could use the same.
Celtics: a shake-up
The Celtics were supposed to have the talent to win the Eastern Conference and challenge for a championship. They’ve looked anything but a title contender for half a season.
The Green have too many pieces that don’t fit into a cohesive unit. Terry Rozier only plays well as a starter. Jaylen Brown doesn’t have a role he can thrive in. Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, and Jayson Tatum didn’t seem to fit together in the starting lineup. There’s only one basketball to go around.
The Celtics need to make a trade, and Rozier is the obvious candidate. If Danny Ainge can find a way to repeat the Avery Bradley trade and find another contributing player like Marcus Morris, he should do it in a heartbeat.
A message needs to be sent to the locker room and a player who better fits what the Celtics are trying to accomplish needs to be brought in. This team is better than a 5-seed, but that’s all they’ve shown they can be as presented constructed.
Bruins: secondary scoring
It’s hard to find many teams in the NHL with as much top-level talent as the Bruins, but their lack of depth will likely sink them in the end.
They desperately need a right wing to play alongside David Krejci and their third line has lacked an identity all year long.
The Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak line is good enough to carry the Black and Gold through the regular season, but if last year is any indication, elite teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning will be able to contain that line in the playoffs.
Red Sox: a closer and a setup man
The Red Sox won the World Series without a primary setup man for much of the season and somehow managed to get through October with a closer who imploded every time he took the mound.
That doesn’t seem like a recipe for success in 2019.
The Sox will likely need to replace Craig Kimbrel, who had a strong regular season despite his lousy postseason. A team this good needs a reliable arm in the ninth. They can’t afford to give away games in the late innings with the AL East looking competitive again. The Sox could look at an internal candidate like Ryan Brasier or an external option such as David Robertson if Kimbrel doesn’t return.
Joe Kelly helped stabilize the bullpen in October, but he is off to the Dodgers. The Sox will need to find another setup man to take Kelly’s spot.