Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Mr. Malapropism. Absolutely destroys the English language like no one since Ricky Ricardo. At least, though, Ricky had an excuse—he was from Cuba.
A chore to listen to or to understand. Enjoy the English as a third language Emmitt tribute.
A fool and a tool. Amazing that he actually was so good at the game, because he routinely demonstrates no knowledge it as a commentator. Once, Walton said Rik Smits was a Hall of Fame player and much better than Patrick Ewing, to the amazement of everyone else in the studio, who then spent 10 minutes trying to explain to him why he was so very wrong.
Sometimes just stuns with his bizarre, random and meaningless commentary. A game-ruiner.
Does Stuart Scott really think he's that cool? That can be the only excuse for the constant self-promotion, the never-ending repeating of "boo-yah!" or "As cool as the other side of the pillow." A thorough redesigning of the point to be all about him and nothing about the game. Sure, a whole bunch of ESPN commentators and newscasters have catch phrases and try too hard to be funny—but few are in Scott's class for devotion to his own image. And for random acts of faux hip-hop. Has a page dedicated to his firing from ESPN.
Actually a sad case. Never seemed to get over his own failure as a GM (Mo Vaughn, $46 million for 29 HRs and 170 SO? $11 million for Pedro Astacio?), and the fact that the Yankees beat him in 2000. Seriously, watch him, he will NEVER say anything nice about the Yankees. Ever.
Obnoxious. Makes fun of his colleagues. Insufferable. And usually wrong, blinded by his own prejudices. For instance, last year, he said ..."the Yankees were not going to make the playoffs in 2007. They are D-E-A-D." Which of course means that they would make the playoffs. He also seriously suggested that the Red Sox would trade Manny Ramirez to the Yankees. Yes. He did.
A retarded hyena. The main reason I haven't watched FOX pre-game show in almost 20 years. Unbearable. A rusty nail on a chalkboard. A complete dillweed.
Fancies himself a Country/Western singer. Should go into it because he ain't a broadcaster. Loud, obnoxious. An embarrassment. The guy who does this makes Chris Berman look reserved and astute. Single-handedly makes me both embarrassed to be a football fan and an American. Just unwatchable.
The Man For Whom Its Named:
Steven A. Smith:
Truly the worst that, ESPN, and all of sports broadcasting, has to offer. Stuart Scott is jealous of his massive abilities of self-love. Refers to himself in the third person, even while not on the air. (See here for more: http://andaplayertobenamedlater.blogspot.com/2008/01/transactions.html) Will self-promote himself in any way possible, including the truly asinine.
His being heckled at the NBA draft by irate fans is a annual event. Has a web site dedicated to how bad he is. www.StephenASmithSucks.com. Wrote his column for the Philadelphia Enquirer in between his radio breaks on a BlackBerry. Was subsequently fired from said job. TV show bombed. Lost his radio gig quick, too.
Can flip-flop at the drop of a dime. Even when he makes a little bit of sense, Smith will focus on himself by freaking out and referring to himself. Loud. Obnoxious. Often wrong.
Guys, vote on your favorite or nominate someone else on the comment boards.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
So, when did Anthony Fasano turn into Mark Bavaro? For his first two seasons, Fasano had 14 receptions each year. This year, so far through 3 games this year for the Dolphins, he has 11, with 2 touchdowns—while averaging 3 yards a reception more than he did last year. But it's not just that; it's seeing him bust through tackles like Bavaro did. What the heck happened? He went from meh, to man.
Speaking of which—Matt Jones of the Jags. Coming to the season reeking of major bust, averaging just 33 catches his first three season, suddenly he has almost half that in just 3 games this season. Guess the threat of getting cut and having a cocaine bust hanging over your head (with all the lawyer fees) is quite the motivator, eh Matt?
Word is Stephon Marbury will be cut by the Knicks sometime this week. Well, that was a successful little foray with his hometime team, don't cha think? Ending up at around 14 pts a game (22 pts a game the year before we got him), around 5 assists (down from 9 a game), and getting undressed on defense on a nightly basis. But that's ok; we've only paid him 80 million for four years worth of work—or more than Kobe, Timmy, Dirk or Paul Pierce. Nice.
If Brian Cashman offers Jason Giambi a contract—any kind of contract—I grab my trusty kneecap-hitting pipe and call a cab.
Suddenly everyone is a UConn football fan. And sure, so far, they've been nice, with a 4-0 record. But really, people, they barely beat Baylor, who's lost to Wake Forest 41-13, and Temple. And they beat Virgina who led Richmond by the score 3-0 until the 4th quarter. I mean, so far so good for UConn football, but let's wait until they actually play someone—and considering they are in the Big East, that might be a while.
And speaking of complete jerks, here we have Josh Howard of the Mavericks. Aside from a variety of charges brought about from a racing competition in July, an open admission of majauana use during an interview, and throwing himself a big party during a playoff series where his coach Avery Johnson asked players to refrain from the clubs and nightlife—we have a new incident with Howard. While the original video has been pulled from the web, here is a news broadcast of the video. in it, Howard says he doesn't pledge alliegence because he's black.
This isn't a race issue. It's an idiot issue. Josh...this country has afforded you an amazing lifestyle—probably the best lifestyle in the history of humanity—for playing a game. You don't work, you play basketball. For that you get paid a truly obscene amount of money. And since you can't even be bothered to represent your country (Howard opted out of the 2006 Olympic Team Program), the least you could do—the very least—is not act like an ungrateful jerk for 2 minutes when the anthem is being played.
Not a great week to pick the Andaplayertobenamedlater's Man of the Week. However, finally, we'll go with Marion Barber of the Cowboys. 28 carries for 142 yards against the Packers on their home field. That, plus one touchdown. Nice going Barbie.
And last, even though I wrote something for the Stadium...just one last picture of one of my most favorite places on earth.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
They were playing the Red Sox. The hated, stupid Red Sox. Stupid Dennis Eckersley was pitching against Gaylord Perry, whom the Yankees had just gotten in a trade. My brother had just bought a used Datsun, so we drove up to the Bronx, and didn't have to take the 4 train like I would countless times later. As we got close, the Stadium appeared on the horizon—it was the place I had seen so many times on WPIX channel 11 New York and it was right there in front of me. Wow.
I got a program, "The 1980 Yankees"—with a cool cover picture of the Stadium. Then, after climbing almost to the top of the Stadium, my brother and I finally walked through the tunnel and out into the Stadium itself.
I have been in a bunch of parks since then. Fenway, Coors Field, Shea—not one of them has the majesty. Yankee Stadium just says, "Expect noble and heroic occurrences to happen here." In a way no other stadium or park could. Fenway is great, Wrigley is cool—neither of them, or any other stadium, has that kind of majesty. And never could. You could see why the Pope comes here.
So the game begins. Perry gets rocked. He gives up 4 runs and is out of the game before the second inning is done. The Yanks are never really in it as Eckersley mows down the Yankees economically. Still, I put on my glove every time Reggie comes up, ready to catch the home run I am sure is coming my way.
The Yanks don't score till the 8th inning, and then it's just a sac fly by Oscar Gamble. Reggie strikes out. And then, down, 4-1, the Yankees don't bring in the Goose. They bring in Tim Lollar (who?). They don't score in the bottom of the 9th and lose to the Sox 4-1. Oddly, though, I don't care. From my seat, I look down at the 50,000-plus people populating the stands, Monument Park, the bullpens. I am awed. I'm in Yankee Stadium.
More than twenty years later, I take a day off work and bring a friend with me who isn't a baseball fan and had never seen a Yankee game in his life. This time, the seats are better, down the first base line about thirty rows back. The two of us took the 4 train up and sat in the first car, so we got to see the Stadium appear as the train came out of the tunnel approaching 161st Street. We get our dogs, our beers, and our programs. We're early; I want to see batting practice. I watch my friend as we walk through the interior of the Stadium heading towards our seats. I want to see his reaction; a non-baseball fan. Do I love the Stadium because I am a Yankee fan? Or is it as majestic as I think it is? My friend is chatting about something as we make our way through the tunnel, and when the blue sky comes into sight, the white facade, the flawless green grass like an emerald sea, he stops chatting and just stares.
"Wow." he says.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Actually, it’s the deal he didn’t screw up—didn’t make, actually—that has him in trouble. See, last winter, Cashman had the ability to trade Phil Hughes and/or Ian Kennedy for Johan Santana and didn’t. So, of course, all the New York tabloids, all the radio jockheads are screaming for Cashman on a stick in the harbor because of that idiotic gaffe.
Now here we are again, one year later, and the same question is on the table; do we trade these undeniably talented kids with some growing pains ahead of them for some veteran help, or do we hang on to them and hope they grow up faster rather than slower.
The answer, unlike last year, is trade them….or not.
OK, what I mean by this—they are not off the table.
Hughes (22) and Kennedy, (23) as I’ve written in the past are miles from the Sell By date. Kennedy has thrown a grand total of 58.7 innings for his career, Hughes, 94.7. They have looked, as you expect, like phenoms at times, overwhelmed at others. And they’ve done it, not in the relative quiet of Kansas City, Tampa or Pittsburgh, but in the hardest, hottest spotlight in America, where growing pains aren’t tolerated, and anything less than a 4-game sweep of the World Series is total failure.
That said, the Yankees are now in full Fire Sale mode. They’ve discovered what some of us have known for a while, they are old, many of their players’ best years are in the past; they are a poorly constructed team that can’t run, doesn’t defend and can’t shut down opposing lineups.
What to do? It’s obvious the outfield needs a makeover, 1B is a gaping hole and your pitching is a prayer until the 9th inning. Well, what do you have as assets? Well, we’ve got these young pitchers…..
Now before we go handing these young pitchers for the first Rick Rhoden or Steve Trout to come along, let me repeat: They are not off the table.
That means that you don’t go into the off-season with the plan to trade Hughes, Kennedy and Cano for whatever you can get. Rather the plan should be, let’s let it float out there that we have some young talented pitchers than could be had—for the right price. Say Texas is interested in Kennedy and will part with Josh Hamilton—I’m listening. Or Colorado really wants Hughes and will part with Holliday, Mmm-K?
Seriously, you don’t think 30 teams out there wouldn’t be interested in talking if the Yankees said, Kennedy and Hughes could be had? Deals would come flying off the fax machine. Maybe there’s a good one out there. Maybe not. A lot depends on if the Yankees can get Sheets or Sabathia to aid their rotation. So, a perfectly acceptable result of floating this out there, is that the Yankees decide that keeping two young pitchers—neither of whom will be much past 24 come next season—is the best idea of all.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
You're a running back in the NFL, and you steal someone's bags? Then you go hide them at a "female bootycall," I mean "acquaintance?" Just outstanding. Hope you like Dunkin' Donuts, Tatum, 'cause you're never working in the NFL again.
The team checked the videotapes generated by the team’s in-house surveillance system, and they quickly identified the culprit.
So who might it have been? None other than Tatum Bell, who lost his gig with the Lions after Rudi arrived.
Per the source, Bell took the bags to the house of a female acquaintance. When confronted on the matter, Bell offered up some cockamamie story that he thought the bags belonged to someone he knew. The girl, however, said that she hadn’t seen Bell in several months and he showed up out of the blue and asked her to keep the bags for a while.
I don't usually like to overstate things, but ever since I saw him drop 225 yards against Texas in 2004, and up to last week as Colt defenders were waving their arms uselessly at him, I think Adrian Peterson is the best back I've ever seen. I've seen Walter Payton, John Riggins, Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson and Barry Sanders—still to me, Peterson is the complete deal.
I know Matt Cassel has a lot to do with it—not being as good on the deep ball as Tom Brady, but give some credit to Darrell Revis. Revis looked like he stuck himself in Moss' boxers all game. Only 2 catches for Moss with a long of 22 yards. Not too shabby.
The ESPN Ombudsman says that ESPN cross-promotes itself too much. Ummm....duh.
Jonathan Papelbon is upset.
"Here's the deal. Here's what everybody - including Tom and all the reporters - [expletive], I'm a human. You know? I'm not a machine. And, [expletive], a machine breaks down sometimes, too. "So I mean, there's that human factor for error.You know what, Jonny. If you say things like "I should close the All-Star game...I've earned that right" then you're also earned the right to be criticized when you don't pitch well. Don't go all Vince Young on us and complain. Take the goood with the bad and don't be a baby.
Seriously, does Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com have to make every single sports story a reason to soapbox about race? Vince Young was babied in Texas and now he's making a jillion dollars as an NFL quarterback and learn to take criticism. Period. Eli Manning had to take it, so does Vince.
The Andaplayertobenamedlater.com's Man of the Week Award goes to....Mike Shana-Man. For reaching down, remembering he had a pair and going for two and the win against San Diego. For those who didn't see the game, Denver scored a touchdown with 39 seconds left to make the game 38-37. The extra point would have tied the game and sent it into overtime. Instead, Shana-Man went for two and Cutler got the 2-pint conversion to outright win the game. For that total gutsy call, Shana-Man gets the Man of the Week award.
And lastly, here's a great story that got buried. A kid named Fenuki Topou of Oregon blew the whistle on his agent. The agent appartently slipped him $100 in a parting handshake as a bribe. So what does the kid do—go out and buy some bling or booze or whatever? No, he goes and reports the agent and apologizes to his team.
“I’m sorry that I allowed myself to be put in this situation,” Tupou said in a statement released by the school. ”I apologized to my teammates and coaches. It will not happen again.”An incredibly, awesomely honorable thing to do. I hope one kid out there hears about this and learns that you can do the right thing.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Got an Email from Ragin' this week to alert to a tasty little tidbit. Without further ado....from the World's Most Dangerous Newspaper...The New York Post.
The co-owner of the New York Giants has scored a new record - he paid the highest price ever for a co-op in , a $48 million apartment on the .
Loews Hotels, won a bidding war for the 14-room residence at 2 East 67th St., who also is chairman of
"Trophy properties like [Tisch's] are continuing to be scooped up as if they were studios," said broker Dolly Lenz.
The huge price for the co-op beats the previous record by $2 million.
But while it's a record for a co-op, a condo in The Plaza hotel recently sold for $60 million.
So the guys who owns the Giants and is crying poverty because his shiny new stadium costs so dang much goes out and breaks a record for a Manhattan co-op. Interesting. I wonder if the co-op had a personal license requiring Tisch to spend a ton of money for the right to buy his co-op. That would be sweet.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Before the season started, I called 2008 a "correction year" for the Yankees, and by that I meant, it was a year where a bunch of older players with bad contracts limping to the end of their Yankee career would be playing with a bunch of young kids trying to prove themselves in the rotation and bullpen. Overall, it was going to be a painful year as old legs got swept away while young ones endured the pains of learning how to play in the majors.
I had no idea how right I'd be. The old legs (and arms) not only grew tired, they completely failed as Posada, Matsui, Petitte and Damon all spent significant time on IR with injuries to their aging bodies or hogged the DH when they couldn't play the field. And when the youngsters weren't going through the normal growing pains, they were on the DL with injuries of their own.
However, the major problem wasn't the injuries, it was the team itself. In short, there was no ability or reliable way to generate runs on offense, and no consistent ability to shut down the other teams on defense—either with pitching or in the field.
Let's take offense first. In short, the Yankees were built to hit home runs, which is fine if you can hit them on a regular basis. However, if you can't, you need another way to generate runs. Play some sort of small ball—dash and pick up a run here and there. And the Yankees can't do that. They are a station to station team that tends to clog the basepaths when they actually can get on base. What they can't do is take the extra base on a hit to right field; they are not a threat to sneak a bunt to get on first, and unless their name is Damon or Abreu (when healthy), they are not a threat to steal anything.
To prove my point, here are some numbers: Despite the fact that the Yankees are 7th in the AL in runs, they have scored 3 or less runs in a game over 60 times this season—this means they score them in bunches; i.e. home runs. And both the Angels and Rays have more stolen bases than the Yankees, with Tampa having almost 30 more stolen bases this season. And while Tampa and L.A. have almost the same runs scored as the Yankees, their output has been much more consistent (there's that word again). In short they don't score 16 runs one night and then 3 over the next four nights.
As for the pitching, any casual Yankee fan knows that there was no way to predict what you would get on a given night. Yes, there were injuries, but even before the injuries came, the Yankees staff seemed a mish-mash and a prayer. And now at the end of the season, we see that the 2008 Yankees staff gave up 4.59 R/G while Tampa and LA gave up 4.04 and 4.22 respectively. Consistent hitting and reliable pitching—that's why the Angels and the Rays are in the lead and the Yankee aren't.
And then there's the defense. Derek Jeter, after doing stretching and agility drills in the offseason improved his defense to be ranked 23rd among shortstops in the league in the Bill James plus/minus ratings. What that means is that, next year, Jeter will be 35 and among the lower quarter of defensive shortstops. Not good, but it gets worse. Giambi ranks 29th among first basemen, but will hopefully be gone next year. Next up, Cano, who ranks 29th among second basemen and shows no sign of improving; Bobby Abreu, who may be kept for next year ranks 33rd among right fielders—mostly for avoiding the wall at all costs. Rodriguez is 16th among third basemen — just average. And you don't have to tell any Yankee fan about Johnny Damon's chicken arm out in left field. Which, when combined means the Yankees don't help their pitchers all that much.
What this all means for the 2008 Yankees, is that, yeah, it's over. That said, why aren't they playing the kids more? Checking last night's box score...you had Damon in center and Giambi on first. And why the heck is Abreu in right instead of Justin Christian or Brett Gardner? Why isn't Shelly Duncan on first base for the next three weeks or Juan Miranda? Heck, why not throw Francisco Cervelli behind the plate and Austin Jackson out in center? Why not spend the next three weeks seeing what you have in the minors? What can hurt at this point? You've already lost with Giambi and Damon, so let's see what Duncan and Gardner can do with consistent time—and show Jackson and Miranda what it takes to play in New York. The Yankees have thrown a young pitcher or two out there recently (Aceves and Coke, mostly), but that was largely out of necessity. Can you really send Rasner (5.43 ERA) and Ponson (6.03 ERA) out there any more and charge fans $200 for two tickets?
It's a simple game plan for the rest of 2008—but one the Yankees haven't had to do in a long time. Usually at this time of year, they are fighting for playoff position and getting their rotation in order.But they have three weeks to learn the plan; empty the farm system, see what you've got and prepare for next season. Trust me guys—you'll be glad you did. Or at least, it can't hurt any. So do it.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Nice to Brodie Croyle staying in for 3 whole quarters before getting injured.
Speaking of consistency...what were the Seahawks expecting when they signed Julius Jones? If he could only average 3.6 yds a carry last year behind Dallas' offensive line, did they expect better from him behind the Seahawk's line?
Kellen Clemens won't be a Jet this time next year. Just a hunch.
I'm sure Roger Federer, winner of his fifth straight U.S. Open, would like to personally thank each and every one of the writers who said he was finished, and tell them to kiss his posterior, softly and gently.
Reggie Bush had a good day catching 8 passes out of the backfield, including a nice catch and run through the flat for a TD. But, even with a 26 yard run to his credit, Bush still only averaged 3.6 yards a carry and needed a guy named Pierre Thomas (who averaged 5.2 yards a carry) to cover him for the runs up the middle. Bush might be an exotic weapon for the Saints to utilize, but I can't see him ever being a reliable running back.
The series of the Rays-Red Sox is really exciting and should be heck of a lot of fun to watch—but ultimately irrelevant, because the Angels take the AL, hands down.
The official Andaplayertobenamedlater.com Man of the Week Award goes to Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons, for his completely sick day he had on Sunday. 220 yards on the ground, with 2 TDs and a whopping ten yards per carry average. Granted it was against the Lions, but still...an awesome day. Congrats, Michael.
And finally...has anyone noticed the NFL Networks use of Morrissey's 'Every Day Is Like Sunday" as their new theme song. First of all, it's a lame faux-country, peppy remix of Morrissey's ballad of depression, now used as a rallying cry for football fans everywhere—sorta like using the Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated" for a anti-depression drug commercial. Anyway, here are the lyrics for the song, and let me know if you think the NFL is retared for using this song.
Trudging slowly over wet sand
Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon - come armageddon!
Come, armageddon! come!
Everyday is like sunday
Everyday is silent and grey
Hide on the promenade
Etch a postcard
How I dearly wish I was not here
In the seaside town
…that they forgot to bomb
Come, come, come - nuclear bomb
Everyday is like sunday
Everyday is silent and grey
Monday, September 8, 2008
The security guy wouldn't let me in with a small paper bag with some comic books in it even though I opened it up for him.....I go inside and see women with pocketbooks walking aroundI get excessively patted down every single part of my body—never been patted down before like that—also they have typical Political Correct nonsense where you can only be searched by someone of your own gender. I thought we were equal????I go into the stadium—hand out almost 40 "NO PSL" flyers to people I got from the anti-PSL website. No one waving them at all—I was the only one standing up with it during the commercial breaks. Ooooh we are scared to get into troubleWalked up the stairway holding it when I went to get a beer—maybe a few hi fives and one "Mara/Tisch suck" guy chanting that's it. Got some contemptuous smirks from Giant player families section -- wonder if they will have to pay PSLs?Spineless "fans" deserve this organization. I felt no enthusiasm even thought they won. Sadly this might be my last season. Go Bills!!!
As always, if you guys want to join the fight against ridiculous seat licenses, write your congressman. Ragin' Giant Fan did and got a great response. Help out.
Friday, September 5, 2008
AFC East — Patriots
AFC North — Steelers
AFC South — Jaguars
AFC West — Chargers
AFC Wild Cards — Colts, Jets
NFC East — Cowboys
NFC North — Vikings
NFC South — Saints
NFC West — Seahawks
NFC Wild Cards — Bucs, Packers
AFC Championship Game — Jaguars defeat Chargers
NFC Championship Game — Cowboys defeat Vikings
Super Bowl — Cowboys defeat Jaguars
MVP — Adrian Peterson
Off. Rookie of the Year — Jonathon Stewart
Def. Rookie of the Year — Sedrick Ellis
Coach of the Year — Jack Del Rio
Enjoy the season.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
NFC EAST: Dallas Cowboys:
Simply put, on paper, this is the best, most complete team in the league, thanks to Bill Parcells groundwork, and Jerry Jones cash.
That's not to say there aren't concerns. The wide receivers corp is thin, if not old—and you can check in at least 1-2 drops from T.O. each game.
That said, the defense is excellent, the running game, with Marion Barber and Felix Jones is superb. Even the special teams, with Nick Folk and Mat McBriar is above average. This team should go deep into the playoffs. And they'd better. There would be no excuse not to.
New York Giants:
I doubted the Giants every step of the way through the playoffs last year. And here I go again.
However, I have become something of an Eli believer. Without Jeremy Shockey, Eli looked more relaxed, more in charge. And there's no reason that won't continue this season. His receiving corp has looked solid in preseason and his line and running backs are healthy. The problem lies on defense. Without Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, can their attack defense duplicate the massive rush of last season's playoffs? Doubtful, although Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka do seem tailor-made to be ferocious pass-rushers. Can rookie Kenny Phillips come in at safety and play without a hitch? Can Bryan Kehl and Gerris Wilkinson perform as veterans now that they are starting in the linebacking group. It's doubtful to say that all these things can happen.
The Giants will be good, I won't completely doubt them again. I just can't seem the repeating.
Donovan McNabb is healthy. Great. Now who does he throw to?
Kevin Curtis, last year's no. 1 receiver is out indefinitely. Reggie Brown is doing his best bust impersonation. DeSean Jackon may be Devin Hester in waiting, but he's a rookie and Donavan (not to mention Jon Runyon, Brain Dawkins and Tra Thomas) is a guy looking to win NOW.
That said, the defense should be in good shape. Coordinator Jim Johnson will have a great time with his new, young and fast linebacking corp, safe in the knowledge that he has a deep and talented (and rich, just ask Asante Samuel) cornerbacking crew. The defensive tackles, Bruckley and Patterson are rock-steady.
All of which should make this a competitive team. Unf. for McNabb and his crew of vets, it's not enough to get them past Dallas.
Just after the draft, one could tell what new coach Jim Zorn wanted to do with this team. With the first three picks in the draft, Zorn and crew selected two wide receivers—Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly—and tight end, Fred Davis. They also picked Colt Brennan later in the draft and signed free agent wide receivers, Jerome Mathis, Billy McMullen and Maurice Mann.
Get the picture?
The early returns for all this offensive work is mixed. There have been a lot of injuries and thus, development delays in getting the offense to gel—something the Redskins can't afford in the tough NFC East. Also, and more troubling, are some reports that Jason Campbell can't succeed in the NFL, that the offense has to be dumbed down for him to have a chance. To counter that, coaches say that Campbell has looked sharp in preseason, but needs to improve his accuracy.
On the defensive side, the Redskins are solid, if not spectacular. Marcus Washington and Carlos Rogers should return healthy to aid the group that lost Sean Taylor. However, depth is an issue, as the Redskins did little to shore up their defense with younger players in the draft.
Overall, there are too many questions for the Skins to succeed. Especially in the NFC east. Pencil them in for fourth place.
NFC NORTH: Minnesota Vikings:
How do you not take these guys? They have arguably, two of the best players in the league on both sides of the ball, in Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen. Allen, whom they got from the Chiefs in a trade, now gets paired with Kevin and Pat Williams to form a awesome front line. Also, Chad Greenaway is said to be having a fantastic camp and is ready to dominate. Antonine Winfield should continue to be a Pro bowl-level cornerback. free agent signing Madieu Williams should return in the third week to help shore up the secondary.
On the offense, aside from the All-World Peterson, Minnesota went out and got WR Bernard Berrian to help 2nd year players Sidney Rice and Aundray Allison, who had a nice camp. Tarvaris Jackson, who's played a grand total of 16 games, has his share of doubters. However, he has shown small but steady improvement and has enough pieces around him to keep the offense moving. The Vikings didn't spend jillions of dollars this offseason to lose.
Green Bay Packers:
While yes, Brett Farve contributed mightily to the Packers 2007 run, in fact, it was the defense who did a lot of the yeoman's work last year.
The defense, ranked sixth overall should continue to do good work, though it may be a little harder this year. After trading DT Corey Williams in the offseason, the Packers have found out that DT Justin Harrell blew out his back and may not be able to play this year. Also, DT Johnny Jolley has a date with a judge come Sept 16th and his status for the season is uncertain. Depth on the line, needless to say, is a problem. Also, the Packers are saying some extra prayers that corners Al Harris (33) and Charles Woodson (31) can hold on for one more year. behind them are eager, but green Will Blackmon, Tramon Williams and rookie Patrick Lee.
Aaron Rodgers has looked like talented guy who hasn't played; that is to say, no one really knows how he will perform once the game whistle blows. The Packers have a deep wide receiving corp—they just hope Rodgers can get them the ball.
Questions remain in Wisconsin. The talent is there. Can it gel enough to compete for a playoff spot?
Say this for Rod Marinelli, Detroit's head coach. He has a vision.
After last year's team finished with a 7-9 record (the best record of the Mike Millen era, by the way), Marinelli got busy. He let offensive coordinator Mike Martz go and replaced him with Jim Coletto, who runs an offense more to Marinelli's stylings. He also let go of defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson and replaced with with Joe Barry, whom Coletto worked with in Tampa Bay. Then all Coletto did was get rid of arguably the best player the Lions had on defense, Shaun Rogers because A) he didn't fit the scheme and B) took plays off—a fatal character flaw in Coletto's eyes. They also got rid off/let go Boss Bailey, Damien Woody, Kalimba Edwards, Kevin Jones and Fernando Bryant, among others—all in an effort to create a football team that Coletto feels comfortable with. To that end, the Lions have brought in Dwight Smith and Brian Kelly, both of whom have played in Coletto's system before, as well as Chuck Darby, Leigh Bodden and Rudi Johnson.
Does all this movement add to much?
It'd better. This team hasn't won since America liked Ike.Problem is—for this system that Coletto likes—Tampa Two—to work, there has to be playmakers who can exploit it—Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch. Detroit, simply put, doesn't have them.
Two years ago, the Bears were in the Super Bowl.
What the heck happened since then?
Well, since then draft picks, Cedric Benson flamed out, as did Rex Grossman. This year's no. 1 pick, Chris Williams—brought in to shore up the offensive line after Rueben Brown and Fred Miller were let go—is already injured. Oh and Bernard Berrian was let free to sign big free agent money, but don't worry. The Bears will see lots of him—he went to the Vikings.
Oh, is that all?
The Bears paid big money to their defensive stars, Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris and Brian Urlacher—here's hoping the don't get complacent. Because really, that's all the Bears have now. Lot of luck Chicago fans.
NFC SOUTH: New Orleans Saints:
The Saints knew what to work on this offseason. Defense, defense, and more of the same.
So in comes Jon Vilma, from a trade with the Jets, Dan Morgan, Randall Gay, and draftees, DT Sedrick Ellis and CB Tracey Porter. If the Saints can at least stop their defensive bleeding to a trickle, the offense should be able to take care of the rest.
Here's a fact I'm sure Drew Brees likes: In the last 1,271 pass plays, the Saints have given up only 39 sacks. And with only C Jeff Faine not returning, the line should be just fine again this year. Drew Brees should have the most options he's ever had with the Saints, with Jeremy Shockey joining the Saints to open up lanes for Marques Colston, improving Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson and David Patten. Also, with Deuce McAllister returning, coach Sean Payton has promised to utilize Reggie Bush in a way that makes the most of his talents. All in all, the Saints should take the South and ride into the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
With seemingly everyone on the planet assuming the Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden was going to improve the receiving corp in the offseason, Gruden outfoxed us all. By doing next to nothing in that area.
Instead, Gruden went hard to improve the Bucs secondary corp; first by drafting Aqib Talib in the first round, then signing Eugene Wilson from the Patriots.
In truth, Gruden did draft a receiver, 2nd round pick Dexter Jackson from Appalachian State, but he is seen more as a longer-range prospect. For this season, ageless Joey Galloway is being paired up with retread Antonio Bryant. The defense, under Monte Kiffen, is still potent, ranking 3rd in total yards last season.
Gruden should have enough to squeak into the playoffs, maybe. but like last year, it should be a one-and-done once he gets there.
There are a heck of a lot of changes down in Charlotte. For one thing, the offensive line should have not one player playing the same position that was manned in 2007. Continuity, there is not.
Also, Julius Peppers will be lining up on the right defensive end, ion hopes of jump-starting him from the 2 1/2 sack season he had last year. Linemate Kris Jenkins is gone, replaced by Maake Kemoeatu. Then there's Steve Smith, suspended for fighting, rides the bench for two games. in his place is greybeard Mushin Muhammad and D. J. Hackett.
Jake Delhomme, if healthy, should be a welcome sight back. And Jonathon Stewart, rookie back from Oregon, is my pick for rookie of the year. But that wont be enough, as the panthers should be lucky to make it to .500 this year.
It's one of the give-and-takes of being a poster boy college quarterback. Sure you get fame and money and all that comes with it. But you also get selected by a truly terrible team.
Welcome to the NFL, Matt Ryan.
Did I say truly terrible. I meant god-awful. Former Boston College QB, Ryan joins a team left in the rubble by Bobby Petrino who went 3-10 and then bailed. The left side of the offensive line will be manned by rookie Sam Baker and and year guard Justin Blaylock. And that's the solid part of the line. TE (really offensive tackle) Ben Hartsock will be lined up on the other side to help out with backup OT Tyson Clabo fills in for Todd Weiner and "who dat?" guard Harvey Dahl.
The defense is not much better than the offense, and wont be much better this year than they were last year, when they were 29th in the league. It's going to get worse before it gets better.
NFC WEST: Seattle Seahawks:
Somebody has to come in first in the NFC West.
On the defensive side of the ball, Seattle, which placed 6th in the league last year, is solid. NFC sack leader, Patrick Kearney teams up with Maracus Trufant who got 7 interceptions last year, Julian Peterson and Lofi Tatupu to lead a defense that gave up just 15 passing touchdowns last season and just 3.9 yard per rush.
On the other side of the ball, Matt Hassleback—who must be ecstatic that the Seahawks signed Mike Wahle to fill the gigantic hole that's been on the offensive line since Steve Hutchinson left town—has a few problems. First, who can he throw to? Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are out for the forseeable future. Nate Burleson—for whom, inconsistant is a kind word—is an option, as is rookie John Carlson. Also, running backs Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett have been less than stellar this preseason. All of this puts pressure on Hassleback, in this, head coach Mike Holmgren's last year. Lucky for Seattle, they are in the NFC west, and should overcome these problems and take the banner again this year.
Is this the year the Cardinals finally arrive?
Defensivly, they may arrive soon. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has created a potentially nice copy of the Steeler defense he knew back in Pittsburgh. This second year, the Cardinals have added some depth to their talent. The Cardinals took DE Calais Campbell and Kenny Iwebema in the draft to support Darnell Dockett, Bertrand Berry and Antonio Smith. They also added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to their secondary to back up solid corners Eric Green and Roderick Hood.
Offensively, while the Cardinals are explosive—they were 7th in the league last year—they are unbalanced, gaining only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. The Cardinals also gave up the ball 36 times, 12 fumbles and a whopping 24 interceptions. Can the Cardinals grow up, cut down their mistakes and take the next step. They have the talent; they just have to do it.
San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers have spent money and time trying to change an offense that was ranked dead last in 2007. Only the center position, manned by Eric Heitmann remains the same after giving up 55 sacks last season (poor Alex Smith). And with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, comes a new corp of wide receivers. Bryant Johnson from Arizona and Issac Bruce from St. Louis join surprising rookie Josh Morgan. Holdovers Arnaz Battle and TE Vernon Davis complete the corp.
Martz has also changed the QB, going with journeyman J.T. Sullivan over 1st round pick Alex Smith. The change doesn't stop there, as Takeo Spikes joins Justin Smith as free agent signings designed to boost a defense that was decidedly middle of the pack last season. Not that there wasn't anything to work with. Patrick Willis made seemingly every tackle in the Bay area and Nate Clements and Walt Harris solidified the corner positions. The backups, Mcihael Lewis, Shawtae Spencer and rookie Reggie Smith provide for a deep secondary.
The Niners have been busy. And the club should take a step forward in 2008. But there are not there yet.
St. Louis Rams:
In short, Saint Louis has got problems.
To start with, the line play was so bad that quarterback Mark Bulger, once rock solid, has gotten the jitters. his footwork is so bad, the Rams have called in a special coach just to work on Bulger relearning his feet.
Then there's the fact that Steven Jackson sat out almost all of the preseason and should be rusty going into the season.
Don't forget the injuries that have tsunami-ed the secondary, where O.J. Atogwe—who had 8 interceptions last season—has not practiced yet. Also, Fakhir Brown and rookie Justin Brown have been out as well, with King already gone for the season.
Then there's also the fact that no one knows if All-Pro tackle Orlando pace is ready to return from injury.
The Rams, in truth have made good moves to return to prominence in the NFL—drafting Chris Long, resigning Steven Jackson, getting Jacob Bell to help solidify the offensive line—but there is just too much more work to do to consider them a threat for the playoffs.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
So let's not waste any more time and dive right in and take a look at what should be heading our way this season.
New England Patriots:
Seriously. They got undefeated until the Super Bowl and they get the easiest schedule in the league? What the heck?
Well, can't complain because the Pats are back with Brady, Moss, Welker, Maroney and not a whole lot of weaknesses of the offensive side of the ball. The line is a little dinged up and the secondary is a work in progress. But if that's it, they should wake Belichek when the playoffs start.
New York Jets:
See $140 million does get you something. it gets you to second in your division. And maybe a 9-7 record.
The Jets, who were suffering a talent dearth last year, went out and shored up some holes in their team with owner Woody Johnson's E-Z Spendaroo wallet. The result is a team, that while better, still doesn't yet frighten the be-jee-bus out of anyone. Farve should be fine, and the linebackers—better suited to the 3-4 Mangini likes, should be able to attack more. But more than 9 wins is hard to see.
The Buffalo—not Toronto, yet—Bills are easy to like. They have a lot of young talent at skill positions, and their defense should be rebolstered with Marcus Stroud coming in to man the middle and Paul Posluszny returning from injury to take over at MLB. The draft treated them well, with both a top flight CB and WR there waiting for them on the first day, but their starting left tackle Jason Peters, a holdout, hasn't had contact with the Bills in quite a while. Not a good sign. If they can avoid the preposterous amount of injuries that killed them last season, the Bills should be a pain in the butt for any team to face.
Wow. The turnaround has begun already. Not to say the Dolphins will win 14 games. But already there is hope. Last year's offense, ranked 28th in yards from scrimmage has a promising new look, in draftees, Jake Long, Philip Merling and Donald Thomas, free agents Justin Smiley, Jason Ferguson and Chad Pennington, and continued growth from players such as Ted Ginn, Matt Roth and Samson Satele. And most of all, with guys like Parcells and Sparano at the helm, the team knows, that while they might not win a lot now, there's a plan. And it's probably a good one.
This is where the Steelers have been projected for many a year now, and should be again. but there are cracks showing. An aging secondary, a suddenly shaky offensive line. However, some of the mainstays of Steeler football, a dominant running game—including rookie Rashard Mendenhall, loads of ferocious linebackers, including second year men Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, and of course, QB Ben Roethlisberger, remain. And that's enough to win the AFC North.
The Browns are the sexy, fan-pick for the AFC North. And there are reasons to like them. A potential Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback in Derek Anderson, a bigger up front defensive line in Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. Then why aren't we picking them? For one, depth. The Browns don't have a lot of it. The Browns are one injury away from starting 12-year veteran Terry Cousin up against Hines Ward or T.J. Housmanzadah. And behind Williams and Rogers are remnants of the 27th ranked rush defense. Combine that with the fact that last year's Easy-bake Oven schedule gets a heck of a lot harder this year (starting with a game against the Cowboys and including games at Jacksonville and Philadelphia and home against Indianapolis, and the Giants), makes us conclude that the Browns will be good, but not quite there yet.
Anybody feel good about the Bengals this year—raise your hands. Anybody? Even the usual solid offensive line is leaky. Free agent Lamar Odom, signed to provide some semblance of a pass rush is injured. Rudi Johnson, spent rehabbing injuries and looked ready to return as the player from 2006, was cut as was longtime RT Willie Anderson. Despite a rededication to high-character players, the Bengals took Anthony Collins and Jason Shirley, two problem children, in the draft. And we haven't mentioned the off-season of Chad Ocho Cinco.
All in all, there is talent in Cincinnati—lots when you consider the WRs corp, the CB corp, rookie Keith Rivers and QB Caron Palmer—but there's no cohesion. No plan. And that means a barely .500 season.
It's called rebuilding. And when Kyle Boller being out for the year is cause for concern, you know you're rebuilding.
An aging defense, with Ray Lewis, Trevor Pryce and Chris McAlister all on the wrong side of their careers, and an unremarkable offense that is retooling on the fly and doesn't scare anyone too much, mean Charm City will feel the pains of—that word again—rebuilding.
There's still talent here. Kelly Gregg—one of my favorite players—anchors a tough defensive line, and Todd Heap is an underrated TE. But there's not enough to seriously contend.
Make no mistake. The Jags are hunting colts.
When their first two draft picks, including one they traded up almost 20 spots to nab, are athletic rush-the-QB-like-your-butt-is-on-fire players, you know the Jags are taking a page from the Giant playbook.
Jacksonville also went out and signed Jerry Porter (who is still injured, though) and Drayton Florence to help. With these new additions, and with Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, and—let's not forget—David Garrard, he of the 3 interceptions in all of 2007, this is shaping up to be the year, the Jaguars finally make the kill on the Colts.
Too many injuries, too many defections, too many guns sighting on your head.
Don't get me wrong. The Colts are still a supity-duper elite team. Manning, Clark, Freeney, Wayne, Harrison, Sanders...heck. They have superstars everywhere. Then what gives with the 2nd place finish?
Frankly, injuries. Sanders still hasn't practiced. Manning started practicing like, half an hour ago. Jeff Saturday is out for a while on what is already a reshuffled offensive line. Are Freeney and Mathis ready to rush the passers? What about Harrison? What about linebacker Tyjuan Hagler?
They won't slip much. But it's enough for the Jaguars to take over the AFC South, for now.
They're partying like it's 2002 in Nashville.
How else do you explain bringing back DE Javon Kearse, coach Mike Heimerdinger and WR Justin McCareins and calling it your off-season moves?
Granted, the defense, led by uber-mensch Kyle Vander Bosch, didn't need a whole lot of help, as they were ranked fifth last year in total defense. But the offense. Peeee-yew.
Unexplainably popular quarterback, Vince Young threw twice as many interceptions as he threw touchdowns. The Titans wide receivers, as a group, caught 8 touchdowns last season, or 15 less than Randy Moss. So of course, the Titans went out and got....Justin McCareins? In the draft, instead of taking a top wide receiver, the Titans take a running back, to add to the 5th best rushing attack. What the......?
Far be it from me to question the plan here. But it sure is hard to see.
Dang. The AFC South. Really stinks to be here.
That's what the Texans must be saying . Because while they have made improvements—on both sides of the ball—its still only good enough for fourth place in the division.
Mario Williams had 14 1/2 sacks last year. Matt Schaub was 6th in the conference last year in QB rating, ahead of Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson. Andre Johnson—who averaged 95 yds per game, 1st in the league—Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels each caught more than 60 passes and Andre Davis averaged 17.7 yds per catch, third best in the league. Demarco Ryans had 128 tackles, good for 6th in the league.
No matter. It's the Texans tough luck they play in the same division as the Colts, jaguars and Titans. Sorry.
San Diego Chargers:
Just like its the Texans bad luck they play in the AFC South, its the Chargers dumb luck they play in the AFC west. Does anybody really think the Broncos, Raiders or Chiefs can compete with Ladainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie, Shaun Phillips, Antonio Gates, Jamal Williams, and Philip Rivers. Now, the Chargers are dinged up. Shawn Merriman is playing with a PCL tear, Luis Castillo is hurt still with a sore back and bad ankles and there is still a brace on Phillip Rivers right knee. Still, even dinged up, the Chargers are the class of the AFC West. no doubt.
Imagine feeling relieved to find out you have diabetes.
That's exactly how Jay Cutler felt after last season—a season that saw him lose 30 pounds of weight, not to mention his stamina and his zip on passes. However, Cutler has gotten on a regimen where he has gained his weight back and says he feels fine.
Despite all this, the problem with the Broncos come on the other side of the ball, where the Broncos did little to improve on a rush defense that ranked 29th in the league. They are depending on Dewayne Robertson and his balky knees and Marcus Thomas, recently arrested after previously being kicked off the Florida Gator football team. Neither is a serious beast in the trenches. Boss Bailey and Nate Webster join D. J. Williams to make up the linebacking corp.
Not horrible, but not a group that keeps opposing coaches up at night. However, in the same division as the Raiders and Chiefs—its good enough for 2nd place.
The Raiders have a great running back corp. 1st round pick Darren McFadden, has been electric in his collegiate career. Add him to Justin Fargas and last year's number 2 pick, Michael Bush and that's a dynamic group. Too bad no one will block for them, where signee/retread wame Harris and Cornell Green make up the bookends to an unimpressive group.
Then there's recent free agent signee Javon Walker, whom coach Lane Kiffen has already criticized repeatedly for his lackadaisical approach. And noted malcontent DeAngelo Hall has contributed with his gripes as well. Neither has played a down yet with the Raiders.
The defensive side of the ball looks better where the Raiders have a talented set of linebackers and cornerbacks. But they might be on the field a long, long time. Figure the Raiders to draft early and often next year in the 2009 draft.
Kansas City Chiefs:
It's gonna get worse before it gets better.
Figure in a team that went 4-12 last year. Take away their best player. Add in some rookies who get injured in the preseason, a quarterback who nobody knows if he can play, an offensive line that probably can't protect him, and an opening day game against the New England Patriots. And you got the makings of a long season.
But there is hope. The Chiefs do have a talented, albeit young roster. Dwayne Bowe had a terrific rookie season, Tambi Hall, who takes over for Jarod Allen, had 15 1/2 sacks his first two seasons and should only get better now that Glenn Dorsey is playing next to him.
Add to this Brandon Flowers, Jarrod Page and big-time running back (although big running lanes might be few and far between) Larry Johnson, and the Chiefs might be exciting. If not very good.
Tomorrow: The NFC.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Speaking of which, every college football site out there is talking about how bad the ACC is. "The worst conference," "a college basketball conference," etc. Pardon, but did anyone check out the Big East? Remember that conference? Pitt loses in embarrassing fashion to Bowling Green. Lousiville gets its doors blown off by SEC superpower, Kentucky. And media darling Rutgers loses to Fresno State. Three of the league's powerhouses lose...at home...to inferior opponents. Why all the hatred for the ACC and none for the Big East?
The NFL Network is reporting the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders have expressed an interest in Koren Robinson. Ummm.....why?
Jon Stewart is going to be the best running back out of this draft. Better than McFadden. Better than Forte. The best. Look out for this guy, he's a monster.
Pro Football Weekly is reporting that New Orleans Saints insiders are starting to feel that Reggie Bush will never be what they were hoping for when they drafted him second in the draft. Despite staying in New Orleans this past summer to be near teammates and work on speed and strength, there is little evidence on the field that suggests he has taken a huge leap forward and become the everydown back they hoped for.
Let me just say this: In two years you are going to see a lot of a very unhappy Shawn Merriman. Here's why. Even though four different specialists recommended that Merriman have season-ending surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee — both the posterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments — the Pro Bowler has opted to forgo the procedure and play in 2008, despite the high likelihood of worsening the ligament damage. And the Chargers are fully behind Merriman in this decision. That's because the team wants to get all it can out of the linebacker during the next two seasons, as Merriman’s contract is up after ’09. After 2009, the Chargers almost certainly won’t shell out the funds to re-sign him. And when he doesn't get paid after sucking it up and playing hurt, Merriman is gonna be pissssssssed.
I think the fact that the Jets are keeping 4 QBs on the roster is a testament to the fact that they don't want to cut a QB they spent a no 2 draft pick on. But there's no doubt, the new darling in the coaches eyes—behind Brett Farve, is Brett Ratliff, who had a stellar pre-season.
And lastly, just wanted to remind everyone: Andruw Jones is batting .161. That number again is .161. The other number you need to know is 18.1 million. That's his salary for hitting .161. Geez with those numbers, Mythbusters should do a special on him to find out if there really ever was a ballplayer named Andruw Jones.