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Picked-up pieces while wondering who will be the starting quarterback of your New England Patriots come the fall of 2021.....

- Sunday's game against the New York Jets likely marked the end of Cam Newton's time in New England.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that both sides are expected to move on this offseason.

It's not all Newton's fault that the Patriots are finishing under .500 for the first time since 2000. Having one of the worst receiving and tight end cores in the National Football League and Covid-19 opt-outs on defense were big parts of it.

There will be a lot of questions over the next several months who will be under center in Foxboro in September. It likely won't be Newton. He did everything right, was a good locker room guy, treated the media with respect and played hard every week.

Nonetheless, the Pats' offense will look very different next season. It needs to to keep up with the fast-track offenses in the 21st-century NFL.

- The college football playoff semifinals played out almost how everyone thought they would.

Expectedly, top-ranked Alabama dispatched No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14. I could drone on and on about how Brian Kelly morphs into Red Gendron in big-time bowl games, but this Alabama team has too much speed on both sides of the ball. This could very well be Nick Saban's best Tide team.

In the other semifinal, Ohio State shocked the college football world by thumping Clemson 49-28.

Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney ran his mouth a little too much, saying OSU wasn't even a top-10 team. Honestly, Dabo is too good a coach to be giving the Buckeyes bulletin board material.

It wasn't a good look for Sweeney and it robbed the nation of another Alabama-Clemson showdown. I don't see this title game being close. Roll Tide. And I'm still holding out hope Devonta Smith is wearing Patriots' blue next fall.

- There's nobody other than Patrice Bergeron who deserves to be the Boston Bruins' next captain with Zdeno Chara now in Washington.

While it's clear the aging Chara has lost a step and the Bruins need more speed on their blue line, Big Z deserved to finish his career in Boston and the fan base is relatively frustrated with general manager Don Sweeney.

- Organized sports officially returned to the state of Maine on Saturday afternoon, with the UMaine men's basketball team edging rival New Hampshire 59-56 at The Pit on the Orono campus.

While fans and media are not allowed entry to comply with Governor Mills' strict indoor gathering limit of 50 people, it was great to see a UMaine team play a home game.

It's feasible for the basketball teams to play games on campus while not going over the gathering limit between players and other team personnel, but it's unlikely we're going to see any hockey at Alfond Arena this season.

I don't see Gov. Mills relaxing the gathering limit anytime soon as Maine's Covid numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction, but Amy Vachon and Richard Barron's hoop squads are fortunate they're able to play some games on campus. Who knows what the regulations will look like come this spring when the football team kicks things off.

- Preseason high school winter sports practices are allowed to start in certain Maine counties on Monday.

While it's a bummer that Tourney Time won't be a thing in 2021, any high school athlete will tell you that having a season and playing a few games is better than having no season at all.

Even if it means playing basketball in a mask.

So, to the adults, whether you're going to the gym, to a restaurant, to the grocery store, wherever, just comply with the Governor's regulations so our children can have a season. Again, this won't last forever.

- Anyone else can't help but notice nobody is talking about the Red Sox much these days?

Guess that's what happens when you finish at the bottom of the AL East in a shortened 2020 season and Chaim Bloom has done basically nothing to suggest Boston's boys of summer will be contenders in 2021.

For those paying attention, Opening Day is April Fools Day at Fenway against Baltimore.

- Another member of the Celtics family, Paul Westphal, passed away last week at the age of 70.

The Hall of Fame player and coach won a championship in Boston in 1974 and was a fine head coach, his best season coming in Phoenix in 1992-93, when he led MVP Charles Barkley and Co. to the NBA Finals.

They just had the misfortune of running into Michael Jordan's Bulls. RIP.



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