Posts Tagged ‘football’

Welcome to 2013!  I’m happy you made it but PLEASE don’t read into it.  Nothing bothers me more than those elaborate 2012 reviews that casually ignore significant sports stories like Lebron James being unclutch, to Lebron the champion, to Lebron putting up 30-9-7 and no one is shocked.  They always seem to miss how bountygate became a story about Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspensions and Saints brass seems to have gotten a total pass about the bounty system THEY started and were warned about by…the Commissioner’s office.  Oh and how about the Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year being Michael Phelps; I understand the temptation to give it to an Olympian but to not give it to Usain Bolt is pretty egregious (USA bias?).  All of those things are best left to professionals.  I can only offer you two of my favorite things: the 2012 Commissioner of the Year award and an updated assessment of the ALL Sports Defensive Team.

2012 Commish of the Year

It’s been a busy year for the fearless leaders of the Big Four professional sports leagues in North America.  I give the Commissioner of the Year honor out to recognize the best of the most hated people in sports.  No one gives people greater angst than Tim Tebow professional sports commissioners but we should always stop and realize that they do oversee the things we love despite the fact that fans think they could do a better job with greater ease.  It should also be noted that you (yes YOU) probably cannot come close to doing their jobs because they work for the owners and you hate the owners.

This year was much harder than last year because lockouts really helped to cut down the pool by two people.  2011 saw Alan Selig storm to victory late in the year past Gary Bettman (gasp!) primarily because Selig and the MLBPA peacefully sat down and passed a collective bargaining agreement which got no media attentions because it wasn’t confrontational.  Furthermore, the deal that passed made the game more entertaining with the added wild card play in game.  Yes, instant replay is a problem and yes MLB does have the strongest players union but credit goes to the guy who provided stability and excellent playoff baseball to the views.

With that said, the final standings are:

4) Gary Bettman

Locked out again after an amazing hockey run.  Any bit of momentum created by this league is thrown away with an ease second only to the XFL.  No one respect Bettman and players have a viable alternative to hockey (though not viable in the long term).  Bettman does seem to do a good job with owners as not playing is more cost effective than playing but fielding no product is just not good enough.

3) Roger Goodell (2010 Winner)

For all my issues with how Bountygate has been misled it still has been a black eye on the commissioner’s office.  Anyone that does Adderall is apparently exempt from punishment for cheating because it’s not like football has a steroids issue. (Seriously have you seen these players?!  Don’t bother me about steroids in baseball if the NFL is loaded with muscular freaks) Oh the replacement referee debacle all falls on him and although ratings did not suffer, it’s never good business to allow less than your best to be on display.

2) Alan Selig

Not much to report other than baseball STILL has not adopted instant replay because old man Selig is old.  The changes to the playoff format, while great, were rushed through leaving glaring holes on what to do (re: one-game playoff rosters allowing for expanded slots for more pitching changes than Tony La Russa could think of).  Not a bad season just not good enough for high honors.

1)      David Stern

Started the NBA season better than anyone could’ve imagined.  For all his shortcomings (namely his world class personality), he totally embraced the bad guy role this year.  Check out the beginning of the NBA draft amid a healthy set of boos. “Woah…thank you for that warm welcome…” and the hand to the ear at the :49 second mark is stuff of pure gold.  Great season after a rough start in the lockout era and most importantly pushed through his grand idea of a “World Cup of Basketball.”  Congrats on this awards and announcing his retirement.

ALL II Defensive Squad Update

As many of you know, I defend a ton of people for pretty good reasons.  Often times these people get no credit or respect because their narrative is totally miscast by the broader media/fans.  Can’t pull a fast one by me.  It’s time to update the defensive team by sport: who’s in, who’s out, and a brief (I promise) explanation how we got here.

The National Basketball Association Wing (aka The Dirk Wing)

CURRENTLY IN: Russell Westbrook, Vinny Del Negro, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams (Suspended for sucking)

OUT: Chris Bosh, Erik Spolestra

Won a title and Bosh’s absence made things much harder for Los Heat to do it.  Value on display.  Second best player that playoffs for the Heat.  Spo won the chip and revolutionized line ups.

In: Mike Brown, my father Avery Johnson, Brook Lopez

Brown: Fired after five games without getting his entire healthy team on the court.  Kobe wanted the Princeton Offense.  Can’t fix being old as s**t.

Johnson: Won coach of the month the same day he was axed.  In the mist of a bad run led by an injured Lopez and career low shooting from Williams.  Got kiss of death from Williams.  Honestly a .500 team on pace to finish above .500 (by a game but still).

Lopez: underappreciated as an offensive force.  Team loses when injured.  Team wins when healthy.  Needs to get totally healthy but team is undeniably better when he is active and on the court.

The Major League Baseball Wing (aka Playing without Steroids Wing)

CURRENT: Ichiro, Carl Crawford

CHIKA CAN NEVER TALK ABOUT BASEBALL AGAIN AFTER ICHIRO’s PLATOON SPLITS WITH THE YANKEES LOOKED GREAT.

OUT: n/a

IN: Mike Scioscia, Justin Upton, Mike Trout

Scioscia is going to be under extreme pressure to win immediately after their loaded line-up missed the playoffs last year.  Smart manager.  Proven winner.  Thin ice.

Upton is the cause of great concern with his numbers regressing last season.  Many outlets are reporting that Arizona is looking to deal him (again) after signing Cody Ross.  Still like the talent that is in Upton; pure athlete that can put it together for a solid career though a jump to the American League may stunt that growth.

Trout should’ve won the MVP by MILES.  Best all-around player.  People don’t understand that defense is part of the game.  Do better.

The National Football Association Wing (aka Nate Kaeding Wing)

CURRENT: Alex Smith, Roger Goodell, Anthony “Tony” Romo, Joe Flacco

OUT: Pete Carroll, Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush

IN: Mark Sanchez

Romo is easily a top ten quarterback.  Over his career he consistently throws for 4300-4600 yards completing 65% of his passes with a 2:1 TD/INT ratio.  Yes he makes some poor decisions in huge moments but it’s not like his defense is helping him.  Winning late to make it into playoff contention should also mean something.  If Dallas thinks jettisoning Romo is going to make them better then they are bound to fail for the next five years.

Sanchez plays with no one talented.  Get that man a talented person at a skill position and then bother me.  (He is also here for comedic relief)

SO thats it.  Expect me to rant about how no one will be admitted in the Hall of Fame and I will reveal my clear cut NFL MVP which I declared in week 14.

ALL II

There is a significant difference between doing what is honest and doing what is right.  Significant may be a stretch, so between you and me, we can probably agree that some circumstances may lead to the separation of those two ideas: honesty and moral right.  My generation of football witnessed the death of an illusion, the end of an era of looking the other way, the conclusion of what some would suggest “the greatest good” winning in the end.  Football’s celebrated violence is now incredibly controversial, with concussions leading the way as the poster child for our beloved, barbaric sport.  For whatever reason, this usually splits casual observers and fans into two camps: pro-players or pro-league.  The pro-players stance is really simple: players make BILLIONS of dollars for the league and should be supported more; owners and particularly Roger Goodell (because people cannot figure out he represents the owners) should support players better with health care and make the league safer.  On the contrary, the pro-league stance suggests players do not HAVE to play football and if they do they should play it safely.  The NFL places no restrictions on if players can use “safer” helmets and if they really cared about safety they would wear all of their equipment (which they don’t), wear safer equipment (which they don’t), and should listen to team doctors upon injury.  Brian Urlacher says eff that!   One thing that is missing from this conversation is the potential avalanche created by fear, not fear of losing money or permanent injury but both.  It’s the fear of replacement.

This takes us to the Monday Night Football extravaganze between Da Bears and the 49ers featuring Colin Kaepernick and Jason Campbell.  Somewhat surprisingly, Kaepernick played phenomenally against a very good Bears defense and dominated from beginning to end.  Inevitably this one game success leads to a quarterback controversy in the media.  “I usually tend to go with the guy that has the hot hand and we have two quarterbacks that have a hot hand,” Harbaugh said after Monday’s 32-7 victory.  WOAH!  That’s not the media, that’s the head coach!  Legit quarterback controversy after one game!  That seems a bit rushed especially since Alex Smith has been…very good in his last two starts (25-27, 304yds, 4TDs/0INTs – injured in the second game) and good all season.

Loss of job from injury + what have you done for me lately.  That’s a huge blow for someone who was built up from mediocrity/instability in the organization.  Thoughts of Smith’s playoff win over the Saints and his carving up the Green Bay defense this season seem like years ago.  How does this all relate to concussions?  Last week, prior to being taken out the game, Smith stayed in the game SIX MORE PLAYS after being concussed and experiencing blurred vision.  He threw a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on his final play of that game without being able to see straight.  I am far short of being a medical doctor but I cannot imagine the injury risk of being hit again after already suffering a concussion.

What drives players is competition, especially those who are not comfortable in their situations.  Who knew that the world would spin so quickly for the fourth rated passer in the NFL and all the talk of supporting Alex Smith who fade after Kaepernicks’s first completed 10-yard out route against the Bears.  Harbaugh unnecessarily brought drama on the NFL’s best team and it remains to be seen if Kaepernick can sustain this success. (Remember Vick coming in for Kevin Kolb against the Packers a couple of years ago and lighting the world on fire?  Or how about giving $10 million guaranteed to Matt Flynn after one great game?)

What remains true is that players will continue to put themselves in harm’s way because tomorrow cannot be guaranteed.  Shameful really but the sport is also a business, and business is just business.

32 Questions and More: Week Five

Posted: October 7, 2012 in ALL II
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Finally snapped out of my 9-7 streak with an impressive 11-4 performance.  Good to see everyone pleased about the return of the regular referees and then turn on them with the quickness of a WWF Attitude Era plotline.  As usual, my picks and questions for the week.

Cardinals at Rams

Kolb was sacked eight times last week and their starting quarterback is out due to injury.  Could there be a worse omen going forward into trap game Thursday?

Sam Bradford’s comeback trail has been lackluster but he doesn’t need to be brilliant to win against the fourth best team in the NFL.  Can he get enough protection to complete just enough to pull off the upset?

Dolphins at Bengals

Dolphins are in the bottom three in pass defense.  Bengals have given up some yards in chunks.  Can Ryan Tannehill continue overachieving long enough to exploit a weak, between the numbers secondary?

Can the Bengals return to the playoffs by only beating teams with under .500 records for the second straight season?  If so, that is an awesome accomplishment that defines a good football team.

Packers at Colts

Can the Packers play a single game without an egregious call against them?

How quickly will the Chuck Pagano story be shifted to match the Colts performance on Sunday?  If they do well, it’s an inspired performance playing for their coach.  If they do poorly, it’s the natural letdown to such a huge loss.  Get better, Chuck.

Ravens at Chiefs

Ravens got up for division rival Cincinnati and AFC elite rival New England.  Can they avoid a letdown on the road at Kansas City?  (Trap game #2)

The clearest advantage for the Chiefs is in the ground game with Jamaal Charles against the Baltimore edges.  With a slower Ravens defense, can Charles get established early and often to control the game opposite Flacco’s no-huddle?

Browns at Giants

If Browns fans were told after four weeks they would be keeping pace with the New Orleans Saints, how many would be disappointed by that reality?

Is it time to give Manning, Eli some credit as a quarterback who makes his teammates better after looking at the great start by perennial butt of the joke tight end Martellus Bennett?

Eagles at Steelers

Accurately picked the Eagles win against the Giants but don’t like their mistakes.  Both teams have porous offensive lines.  Can the Eagles pass rush outperform the Steelers counterpart?  If so then you have a win.

How much will the addition of James Harrison add to the top three pass rush defense going against a turnover prone quarterback?  Not much but it cannot hurt.

Falcons at Redskins

Can the Falcons stop the Atlanta, Georgia sports weekend from hell (Braves screwed in the Wild Card game and Georgia Bulldogs no-showed against South Carolina)?

Where does the Redskins pass defense begin in trying to contain Julio Jones and Roddy White?

Seahawks at Panthers

Russell Wilson is completing exactly 60% of his passes which is good until you see it’s for 600 yards and four touchdowns.  How poorly does he need to play before Carroll considers two game hit wonder Matt Flynn?

Seattle has an elite defense.  If they opt not to blitz, is Newton good enough to make tight throws and know when to throw it away?

Bears at Jaguars

Is it troubling for Bears fans that their franchise quarter back is playing as well as Blaine Gabbert? (Same completion percentage, touchdowns, more interceptions)

The problem with MJD vs. Forte is that Jones-Drew runs against the Bears defense.  It’s a pretty formidable challenge.  Can the Jags get Laurent Robinson going to ease the burden on their running game and reestablish a potential red chip wide receiving talent?

Titans at Vikings

Hasselbeck and Johnson.  Possible tagline for the season “Titans Football: Turning back the clock too late?”

Are you sold on this Vikings team that needed two improbable special team scores to beat the Lions?  Lots to pick apart with this team.

Broncos at Patriots

Can the computer pick apart the evil genius on the road?  It’s really the first and only meaningful Manning test I need to see.

Do you think the Patriots can afford another home loss following their last game against the Cardinals at Foxboro?  Key to this game is Stevan Ridley and getting to the 4.5 yards/carry mark.

Bills vs. 49ers

Who would’ve guessed that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be leading the NFL in touchdown after 4 games (12 TDs, 7 INTs)?

As dominant as their rush defense is, their pass defense has been that much better.  Can their offense avoid looking poorly in what should be a comfortable win?

Chargers at Saints

Chargers got worked by the NFC at home.  Hard for me to imagine this being different.  Can Rivers reassert himself in the top quarterbacks conversation that he woefully fell out of last season?

Things are much easier when you need to focus on just one threat.  Will the Saints put the clamps down on still recovering Ryan Matthews to turn this into a shootout?  Brees still can outperform Rivers – especially in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Texans at Jets

Since the Texans don’t really play good teams it’s hard to know just how good they are compared to others.  Certainly a top three team.  Do the Texans need to blow out the Jets to get the respect is probably deserves?  At least a ten point victory is needed.

How many offensive weapons do the Jets have?  *Waiting…waiting…* Yeah I guess that’s Sanchez’s fault too.

32 Questions and More: Week Four

Posted: September 29, 2012 in ALL II
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As a Packers fan I was going to have a very long post on the disgraceful end of the Monday Night Football game where a win was given to the losing team on a play so egregious that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and companions openly acknowledged they had been gifted a “W” but the 13th man.  My greatest frustration with the game did come with the final bad play but had been building for some time after the blown roughing the passer penalty.  Still, Green Bay played a terrible game for 30 minutes.  The offensive line looked as bad as USC did against Stanford.  Dropped passes.  Just a poor look.  I hate when people say “well, you should never put the game in the hands of the officials – just play better” because in general it is true but sometimes you are put in situations where you need to battle.  The Packers struggling in this game shows me that Green Bay can make adjustments (see the final 30 minutes of that game) and that Seattle’s defense is legitimate.  You hope the referees do their jobs properly so battles can be decided on the field.  Oh well.  Despite the screw job, I didn’t exactly want the NFL to cave in on everything to resolve the labor dispute immediately.  Some of the requests were absurd no matter the amount of money the league makes, especially the idea that part-time employees making on average $140,000+ should get a pension plan while full-time NFL employees do not.  NFL should have paid them more.  Eventually they settled things but it should be noted that my main man Commissioner Roger Goodell is employed by the owners who would not budge on these issues.  I know Goodell has a cushy life and criticism is part of the job but as fans we should do better at understanding what the Commissioner has control over (player conduct inconsistencies) vs. what the Commissioner is merely a representative on (labor negotiations between monetary interests).  Look up in the press box to the big wigs you cheer for putting players on the field – and try not to forget they were the same people that delayed and damaged the game.

Another 9-7 week for me.  Third straight in three weeks.  It’s consistency that will lead me through the lesser hot streaks of other “bloggers” on this site.

Browns at Ravens

Brandon Weeden played well last week.  Baltimore’s defense has been fraudulent.  Can Weeden put up numbers on this defense and should we owe him an apology for a bad week one?

Trap game on a Thursday night?  It’s the only reasonable way they lose this game.

Falcons vs. Panthers

With major quarterbacks struggling, is the Ice Man Matt Ryan in position to win an MVP trophy?  Best team in football right? (No, its still the 49ers)

Maybe I am out of touch but I had no issue with the Charlotte Observer’s editorial cartoon of Cam Newton with a Miss Kitty shirt.  Should I be more open to arguments like the one Stephen A. Smith laid out?  Should CAAAAM just play better?

Patriots at Bills

After week one, who thought the Patriots would be behind the Bills in the AFC East?

Fred Jackson is the game changer.  But his presence means nothing compared to the Buffalo expensive front seven versus Brady’s machine-like offense.  Can Mario Williams get to Brady?  Is this game the one where we know if Williams’ contract was a waste of money?

Vikings at Lions

Two close games with less than stellar opponents and a dominant performance against the best team in the NFC.  With teams no longer looking at this team as a gimmie, will the Vikings step up or was Week Three a fluke?

Detroit can win with Shaun Hill right?  Hell, if they can shut down Percy Harvin they can win…right?

Titans at Texans

Chuck Klosterman wrote a great piece on how fantasy football has changed how people view player success and performance (re: Chris Johnson).  Mr. Johnson has 45 yards after three games.  Is there any real way to understand this stunning lack of productivity?

Are the Texans the most underrated (certainly underappreciated) team in the NFL?

Chargers at Chiefs

Hehehe…Chargers got exposed didn’t they?  NFC seems superior to the AFC so seeing the Chiefs should right the ship.  Don’t mind the classic Arrowhead trap game fever and questions about the Chargers defense matching up against Jamaal Charles.

Not going to go overboard with Charles’ big day.  Can the injured secondary force Rivers turnovers?  Two is the magic number.

49ers at Jets

Alex Smith struggled, defense struggled, special teams looked good actually.  Can losing to the Vikings be forgotten by going from west to east and winning?  In the modern era, nothing is more overstated than east to west splits.

Joe McKnight playing cornerback in practice.  How much more evidence do you need that this team is a mess?  First place in the AFC East by the way.

Seahawks at Rams

Not to be a spoiled sport but it is impossible to look at Russell Wilson and think “there is a good quarterback.”  How bad is Matt Flynn?

Felt good about this being a trap game until I wondered: How is Sam Bradford going to deal with this really good Seahawks defense?  Rush the passer with the Rams offensive line somewhere between Packers bad and Bears bad.  Not good.

Dolphins at Cardinals

Amazingly enough, the Dolphins should be tied for the AFC East lead.  Reggie Bush needs to be healthy for them to win.  In any event, how good would this team be with Matt Moore at quarterback?

Skelton is healthy.  Kolb appears to be “back” which means he is good but not that good but good as of late.  Who will be the quarterback of the future for the undefeated Cardinals?

Raiders at Broncos

Can’t figure out this team, can you?  When McFadden is on, he is ON!

Peyton Manning going behind early is concerning.  His comebacks are reassuring.  Can the offense avoid early struggles to keep the game close?  If so, they will win.

Saints at Packers

Brees has struggled to live up to his high standards.  Will Brees and the Saints validate the third ranked defense in the NFL or expose it as a result of poor offense opponents?

The Packers offense has struggled to live up to its high standards.  Will Rodgers and the Packers get back on track against a bad Saints defense or expose themselves to be mortal?

Bengals at Jaguars

Looks like the young Andrew Dalton maybe winning the Dalton/Newton argument of 2011.  Will the Bengals be able to stop MJD or at least try to avoid being a bottom team in run defense?

Speaking of MJD, he is averaging 5.3 yards per carry.  That’s nuts.  Can Blaine Gabbert pull himself from the jaws of being a 50% completion percentage quarterback to support their star running back?

Redskins at Buccaneers

Simple question: Can the Redskins defense be half as competent as their offense?  All of their struggles have to do with their defense giving up over 30 points per game.

Over/Under Josh Freeman touchdowns 2.5?

Giants at Eagles

Can the Giants offensive line handle a talented and powerful Eagles front four?

LeSean McCoy.  Does Andy Reid forget he plays for his team?  Will he get some touches?

Bears at Cowboys

Can the J’Marcus Webb turnstile hold up against DeMarcus Ware?

Will Tony Romo – off to his typical good start – avoid his typical big game mistakes?

Rough week in the picks department but week one is about survival and figuring out what you really have against other opponents.  Going 9-7 was a nice start but in the 32 questions below, it’s already must win double digit games or I fear a benching or even a firing.  Ok maybe not but it’s not as bad as Andy Reid’s seat.  Picks and questions for week two with winners in bold.

Bears at Packers

Chicago has played the Packers close and lost over the past six meetings but has not been this balanced in years.  Will Cutler’s plan to bait the Packers into press coverage result in a 125yd, 2TD performance from Brandon Marshall?

Offensively the Packers looked the same, playing well against the top defense in the NFL but defensively looked as suspect as ever: little pass rush, penalties, and corners who could not keep up.  Can Mr. 1000 yard rusher Cedric Benson provide enough quality rushes to ease some pressure off Aaron Rodgers to outscore the Bears?

Bills at Chiefs

Kansas City struggled last year due to key injuries on the offense and the little depth in the secondary.  Last week, the defense came under attack with injuries to starting corner Brandon Flowers, linebacks Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher, and safety Kendrick Lewis.  Can this team catch a break?

Along with the Chiefs, the other upset playoff pick that looked bad was the Bills.  The upgraded defense got worked by Sanchize and Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed healthy and still crappy.  Will Chan Gailey be outcoached by Romeo Cronnell?  If you get worked by the offensively limited Jets, everything else seems like an uphill battle.

Saints at Panthers

How stupid were people to suggest that Super Bowl winning coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton wouldn’t be missed because Drew Brees is really good?

How long will it be before Panthers GM Marty Hurney (employed in Carolina since 2002) get the ax for perpetuating this rotational running back mess?  Decide on the running back of choice and let that person run the ball.  Caaaaaaaaaaaaam….woaaaaah, Caaaaam is spared for now.

Browns at Bengals

Since week two comes falls on the week of September 11th and Brandon Weeden struggles with American flags, how will avoid the pregame blitz from good ol’ USA!USA!USA!? Did you notice his attempt to fake right and run backwards before taking the sack?

The Bengals were blown out by Baltimore but that game was much closer than the final score indicates.  If Vick can throw four interceptions and still win by one, does that mean Andy Dalton has only two turnovers worth of error to win?

Vikings at Colts

Adrian Peterson not only played, he ran for two touchdowns and looked pretty amazing in week one.  Can the Vikings enter week three as the only 2-0 team in the NFC North!?

It’s easy to credit a wide receiver when he has a great quarterback just was its easy to forget a star with a bad quarterback (see Larry Fitzgerald).  Have people underappreciated the greatness that is Reggie Wayne?  (YES!)

Texans at Jaguars

In Andre Johnson’s career, he has never had a double digit touchdown season but first things first: Can Johnson tie his 2011 touchdown total in only two games this season?

Blaine Gabbert played well in a game they should’ve won if they weren’t the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Will the Jags be fooled again into thinking they can compete this season (check out Jacksonville’s paper after they won the first game of the 2011 season), only to win four games?

Raiders at Dolphins

Is it possible to trade Reggie Bush to the Raiders to complete their insatiable desire for USC Heisman trophy winners from the Pete Carrol days?  (Sidebar: Did the Raiders address the question of why on a 52 man roster there was no one capable of long snapping to the punter in the event of injury?)

Aside from Darren McFadden, is there a more important non-quarterback offensive player for an AFC team than Reggie Bush?  Both Bush and McFadden run and catch more than anyone else.

Cardinals at Patriots

Which was more shocking: Arizona winning against the Seahawks or Kevin Kolb leading the win against the Seahawks?

Again, how the Patriots got this easy schedule?

Buccaneers at Giants

Greg Schiano prepared his defense to crush the Panthers rushing attack and he succeeded (10 total rushing yards for the Panthers).  What will Schiano focus on against the Giants and can stopping one thing be enough?

One game is an aberration; two is more of a trend.  Can Martellus Bennett back up his solid week one performance with a boneheaded free week two game?

Ravens at Eagles

Will the Ravens no-huddle offense make them the better team with better offensive athletes this Sunday?

How hard is it to believe that Vick will play winning football after his dud in Cleveland?

Cowboys at Seahawks

Are we just at the peak of the Cowboys season before underachieving the rest of the year or is there still room for improvement?

Yes, the Seahawks came one dropped pass from winning the game but is Bill Simmons’ pick to win the Super Bowl the dumbest thing ever written?

Redskins at Rams

Can recent fantasy pick up and rookie running back Alfred Morris be more than a one hit wonder before Shanahan pulls the plug?

Am I too afraid to pick the upset when this game has all the signs of a trap game?  (YES)

Jets at Steelers

How many games of leeway does Sanchez have after his amazing week one performance?

Can the Steelers ever get through a game without losing an offensive lineman?

Titans at Chargers

Is it bad to say that Chris Johnson is back on track after his 11 carry, 4 yard day last week?

It’s hard to root for Norv Turner but this could be the season where the losing streak comes at the end and not the beginning?

Lions at 49ers

Quietly kept, the Lions didn’t do themselves any favors with a poor performance in St. Louis.  Will Jim Schwartz successfully make it through the postgame handshake on opponent territory?

Randy Moss is back.  Manningham looks good.  Defense?  Spectacular but will it be able to contain a dual threat team with an elite wide receiver like Calvin Johnson and a healthy Kevin Smith?

Broncos at Falcons

Peyton Manning back in a dome with a high speed, no huddle offense and he rarely loses night games in primetime.  Can he pick apart an upgraded secondary with an injury to Brent Grimes but still anchored by Asante Samuel?

Can the Falcons’ streak of winning in that dome during the regular season over power Peyton’s power to not lose in primetime at night?  (Or is this going to be the first good test of how much better the NFC is over the AFC?)

NFL 32 Questions or More: Week One

Posted: September 5, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: ,

Every week throughout the football season I will ask 32 questions, one for each team in the National Football League.  On the heels of the Wednesday night season opener, I give you the Week One 32 Questions gimmicky post.

AFC East

New England Patriots

Will the Patriots defense be able to keep up with their offense providing even a minor break for the fighting Tom Bradys?

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins played well for former coach Tony Sparano, delaying his firing by continuing to win games.  Will the same fortune fall on Joe Philbin and is Reggie Bush poised for his first back to back 1000 yard rushing season since USC?

New York Jets

After the screw job is complete with Mark Sanchez (no offensive line, poor rushing, lack of offensive skill players), will Greg McElroy complete 60% of his passes over the final six games of the season?  (Side question:  How underappreciated will the Jets defense be with all the focus on the offensive woes?)

Buffalo Bills

With a healthy Ryan Fitzpatrick, top tier front seven, soft schedule, and a mended relationship between Steve Johnson and the good lord, how can the Bills miss the playoffs?

NFC East

Washington Redskins

How will the offense be built: RG III plays the Shanahan system or Shanahan crafts an offense tailored to RG III style?

Philadelphia Eagles

Is Michael Vick the most overrated quarterback of all-time?  (Figuring in contracts, lack of 16 game seasons, and playoff performance)

Aside: Can LeSean McCoy a) be a successful running back without the specter of Michael Vick and b) break the strangle hold over quarterbacks winning MVP?

Dallas Cowboys

Will the often underappreciated Tony Romo end the season as the best quarterback in the NFC East?  Will it matter when they miss the playoffs again this season?

WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK GIANTS

Since the Giants won’t repeat as champions, what will be funnier to non-Giants fans: Martellus Bennett getting the Manning, Eli face after dropping passes or Tom Coughlin’s job on the line at week 7 after a two game losing streak?

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals

Much less than reaching the playoffs, can the Bengals defense repeat their top ten performance to aid the Dalton led offense?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Can Reshard Mendenhall get to 1000 yards in under 250 carries?  If so, maybe Ben won’t be asked to do it all with that cruddy offensive line.

Cleveland Browns

Who do you draft in top three in the 2013 draft?  Robert Woods would look good with a second year quarterback…

Baltimore Ravens

Does Joe Flacco make the jump to solid top ten quarterback with firm control of the offense?

NFC North

Detroit Lions

The Lions gave up 90 points in the final two weeks of the NFL season (week 17 and playoffs).  Defensive improvement?

Chicago Bears

From what we know he Chicago Bears are the most balanced team in football (offense, defense, and special teams).  Will their offensive line be able to hold up long enough to take advantage of their skills?

Minnesota Vikings

How in the hell is Adrian Peterson ready to play NFL football after that horrific knee injury?!?!?

Green Bay Packers

Can Cedric Benson last long enough to finally give the Packers a legitimate run threat?  Will it be enough to accommodate for some regression to the mean by Aaron Rogers?

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts offensive line is horrendous.  No two ways about it.  Simply put: Does Andrew Luck play all 16 games?

Jacksonville Jaguars

Is there a way that the Jags can make Blane Gabbert have a contract holdout so he doesn’t play quarterback this season?

Tennessee Titans

Has there ever been a team more perfectly constructed for 8-8 than the 2012 Tennessee Titans?

Houston Texans

With everyone healthy in a weak division, is this a “rich man’s” version of the San Francisco 49ers?  Can they get to the AFC title game? (Oh yes they can!)

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 2011 Bucs provided the Boston Red Sox with a great blueprint for how to quit on a coach midseason.  With new personnel installed, can Josh Freeman regain his rookie year form?

Carolina Panthers

Hot shot Cam Newton (CAAAAAAAAAAAAM) started strong and struggled mightily late, especially throwing the football (only two 215+ yard passing games in the final eight games).  A running game helps this type of thing.  Who will be the Carolina Panthers running back of choice or will we get another back by committee system?

Atlanta Falcons

Will Julio Jones become the number one option for Matt Ryan, supplanting the questionable hands of Roddy White?

New Orleans Saints

I think the Saints will be fine this season so there is only one real question to ask: Will Sean Payton make an attempt to talk to his team and get caught by the NFL?

AFC West

Oakland Raiders

Chika thinks the Raiders will be a contender and points to Carson Palmer to have a good season.  Yeah, we laughed too.  But in all seriousness, if the offense stays healthy it should be good.  What is going to happen on the defensive side of the ball with no cornerbacks and a depleted line backing corps?

San Diego Chargers

It seems nearly impossible for the Chargers to begin their season with a characteristic piss poor record.  And Philip Rivers seems destined to recover from his disastrous season.  How many wins will Norv Turner cost this team?  (two wins and possibly the wild card)

Kansas City Chiefs

When healthy, the Chiefs made the playoffs.  Last season, the injured Chiefs struggled mightily and Todd Haley was let go.  How will a healthy Chiefs team overcome the colossal deficit that is Romeo Crenell?

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning’s four time surgically stabilized neck?  Nasty thing to type, even worse to play with I’m sure.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams

Remember when Sam Bradford was the greatest thing since…the last overall number one quarterback?  Nope me neither.

Arizona Cardinals

Remember when Kevin Kolb was the greatest thing since…the last quarterback out of the Andy Reid school of offensive success?  Nope me neither.

Seattle Seahawks

Remember when Matt Flynn was the greatest thing since…Kevin Kolb before he played a snap for Arizona?  Nope me neither.

San Francisco 49ers

Can the upgrades at wide receiver continue the renaissance of Alex Smith?  Can you have a renaissance when you struggled most of your career?

You know what’s tough about consuming large amounts of sports writing?  It can at once be both gratifying and self-serving while addressing a complicated issue reduced to simple, digestible terms.  Most of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation/rape coverage, which will soon be known as the Joe Paterno rape cover up saga, does not need a second opinion.  Most everyone agrees that Sandusky is a monster, Paterno is a liar, and Pennsylvania State University is not some place that should put the words “honor code” or “integrity” in any promotional publications.  What is complicated for many are the after effects of the massive, criminal cover up – namely what should happen to the school now?  Unfortunately this conversation takes the form of a simple question: Should the Joe Paterno statue remain up?   I personally think they should take it down because: 1) statues are meant to memorialize and honor one’s achievements but the “Grand Experiment” of doing college football the right way appears to be built upon a corrupt lie and 2) someone will go out of his/her way to destroy it over the next months.  There is a cruel, Christopher Nolan sense of humor about the Grand Experiment namely that it worked.  Paterno and Co. did positively inspire their football players and kept the players out of trouble compared to most every major Division I program.  It worked.  It worked because the dirty little secret recently exposed by the Sandusky fiasco remains that college programs only need to discipline students.  Coaches, administrators, and trustee members?  Carte Blanche!

Realistically, however, the statue argument does not move my meter.  Couldn’t give less than a mud hole about the statue.  What should be the real focus is what happens to the school.  Where is the NCAA forever worried about the integrity of the game?  Apparently they are policing schools for “lack of institutional control.”  CalTech got lit up for the iconic ruling when players competed in multiple sports without being fully registered for classes because the first three weeks constitutes a “shopping” period where students can visit a variety of classes before setting their schedules.  Here is the report.  So glad the NCAA is still policing programs for institutional problems like lack of protocol, no inter-departmental communication, and schools focused on graduating kids and not being perennial powerhouses.  What should be done to Penn State is my concern.  Rebranding can be kicked about by other people.  Yes, I agree the students-athletes should be allowed to transfer as Dan Wetzel acknowledges on Yahoo! Sports.  The answer to the penalty question is simple.

DEATH PENALTY.  Swift.  Meaningful.  Impacts everyone.  Sends message.

Something amazing happens when schools become out of control or incredibly disingenuous: people cannot figure out how to penalize the programs because an entire crop of new students would suffer from transgressions committed without their knowledge and before their time.  And it is a complicated issue as it pertains to individuals who broke rules with the assistance of coaches/administrators.  In this case, everyone knew.  CalTech was penalized for, among other things, lack of communication and control.  Penn State, sadly, had too much control.  Head Coach knew.  Assistant coaches knew.  Athletic Director knew.  Trustees knew.  Hell, the President of the University knew.  Everyone knew and seemingly everyone decided to hide it.  And more things started to emerge!  And the more anyone asked, the tighter lipped all parties became about the situation.

People don’t like the death penalty because it seems relatively unfair.  Chuck Klosterman on part one of the BS Report with Bill Simmons used the classic statement of relativity (begin at 40:30): if a mathematics professor molested young boys, it would be ludicrous to shut down the entire department or to dissolve the school.  The secondary argument is equally frustrating: the death penalty will not stop other people in the future from molesting young people.  Both arguments, while valid, are incredibly flawed because they do not apply here because the death penalty directly punishes the football program but tangentially impacts the entire University.  Klosterman’s second argument is too narrow because the worst part of this Sandusky 15-year sexual predation is not that Paterno did not do as much as possible or even the fact that he knew about it as much as all of the important players at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY knew and actively covered it up!  That is what the death penalty would effectively stop: when something massively wrong – criminal – is happening and you actively cover it up you should pay the ultimate price especially when its harm done to minors on your property.  Why?  Money.  Everyone took salvage in hiding a damning situation to protect the golden goose that is college football.  For Paterno, football was his legacy.  For the coaches, football was their livelihood.  For the administration, trustees, and President, football was an unprecedented check and marketing tool second to none.  The money negates Klosterman’s first argument.  The football program, the entity itself, led everyone to sit on their hands and do nothing for over a decade.  The death penalty sends a clear and oddly consistent message from the seemingly random NCAA, historically disengaged from criminal matters: football or any other sport is not more important than legal and moral obligations to protect people from predators.

It would be an unfortunate set of circumstances for the current student athletes (who, again, should be allowed to transfer without restriction), students who enjoy football, and many others.  That is the consequence of not reporting a monster while protecting the greenery between the “white-out” sellout crowds in the Autumn/Winter and the green in the pocketbooks of irresponsible adults.

Peyton Manning will join the Mile High Legacy (as sponsored by Sports Authority) with a 5yr/ $96 million dollar contract.  Broncos’ management did their due-diligence in structuring the contract with health related bonuses in years two and three.  Andrew Brandt offers up contract nitty gritty but I want to go through the implications for the main parties involved in the deal.  While some people write the standard “Winners/Loser” post, I give you updates on the “Movers and Shakers.”

Peyton Manning: Quarterback, Denver Broncos

Two different narratives emerge from his decision to join the Broncos and depending on his success it may lead to a massive reevaluation of the greatness of number 18.  From a football perspective – that is winning Super Bowl Titles- the 49ers appeared to be in the best position for a Manning upgrade.  With an elite defense, retooled wide receivers and decent offensive line Manning could rip through the NFC West to a 1 or 2 seed every year.  Not wanting to play against Eli Manning seems like a piss poor reason to avoid the NFC, so I did not buy it.  Like John Elway, Peyton is devilishly calculating.  He does recognize the NFC is the better conference with more, better quarterbacks making his playoff route significantly harder.  Owning the depleted AFC West can provide the safer route to title land and his familiarity with the conference means limited extra preparation.  It shouldn’t be discounted that John Fox is a defensive coach and would not stand in the way of an all Peyton affair on offense – something he enjoyed during his time in Indianapolis.  How do we view all of this?

1)      Peyton Manning is a cerebral, intelligent quarterback who will work to get to the Super Bowl in the most comfortable manner.  Has all the information and skill to make a young team great.

2)      Peyton Manning can only play in one system to the point where his abilities are questionable.  He cannot deal with strong coaches and unless he gets full control he cannot succeed.  He avoids the path of most resistance both teams and conditions (windy in ol’ Candlestick) to try a softer route to a title.

John Elway: Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Denver Broncos

Fresh off a glowing endorsement one month ago, Elway finished wiping the blood off the knife driven in Tebow’s back and made a monster move.  No one should be shocked that Elway made this move: he is a traditional quarterback, never did like Tebow, and always wanted to move him in the best possible way.  His team now gets a Hall of Famer and someone who looks like the last major performer in Denver.  Elway also shows how serious he is in this job.  Former players often get pushed over in negotiations in sympathizing with current players; Elway looks as cold-blooded as a Chicago Booth graduate.  Also gives the Broncos room to negotiate for adding talent to please Peyton which is a long term win.

Timothy Tebow: Position TBD, New York Jets

 

Numbers may deceive but never lie.  Winning games and being on a winning team as a sub-50% completion rate passer just does not cut it.  Fans and teammates immediately abandoned him for the shiny Peyton Manning who will not arm punt the 8 yard out.  Going to New York City is just stunning.  J-E-T-S fans will immediately demand for him to hit the field after the second three and out continuing the regression to the mean under the Rex Ryan-era.  If anything, Tebow may be active at a difference position at FB or maybe tight end which would be an upgrade because he does not need to throw the ball.

Miami Dolphins: Poorly Run Organization, AFC East

What in the hell are they doing!? A competitive team down the stretch needed to wait for a bad game to fire their coach; they gave away a premier wide receiver, and cannot get a quality player to go there?  Manning sweepstakes – not a chance.  Alex Smith possibilities?  He USED them to get back at the 49ers.   New Miami coach, former Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin, passed on Matt Flynn.  Miami is left with nothing and never had a plan going into free agency.  Some fans protested Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and his decisions made over the offseason.  Yeah, those same fans who are responsible for the second lowest home-field attendance in 2011 behind the playoff Bengals (embarrassing Cincinnati).  Dolphins did nothing so this means rebuilding and that is never good for fans or players.

San Francisco 49ers, Window wide open for playoff run, NFC West Champs, 2011

Awkward but grown men will get over it and play ball.  Never a real contender for Manning so the entire Manning conversation just caused unnecessary drama.  Second time where a strong head coach interferes with better quarterback play.  Mike Nolan did not like young Aaron Rodgers opting with a less threatening Alex Smith.  Now Harbaugh opts for Smith over Manning (though more likely the other way around).  Smith is such a nice guy here but he better not stink it up in the playoffs next year.

Halftime: Great performance by Madonna.  I really loved the stage.  Don’t need all the extra mess; just get a cool stage and fantastic backup dancers.  This just saved Super Bowl halftime shows for the next few years from the elder men of yesteryear.

14:48: OCHOCINCO! Feed him the rock.  Love the professionalism commentary that follows him.

12:20: Patriots commitment to the run is beginning to work well against the powerful pass rush.

11:20: Aaron Hernandez TD and more importantly Hernandez just went off in the celebration.  I always loved Hernandez over Gronk for his pass blocking ability and his unlimited catching potential.  Editor-In-Chief may have punched a Pats fan.

8:07: The quarterback play in this game is at an incredibly high level.  Another Manning, Eli first down!

7:16: Pats really laying on the heat.  Like the 49ers.  Big hits and tackles buoying the bend-don’t-break defense.

*Fiat Commercial with the girl is absolutely fantastic.  Captivating, sex appeal, neat car! Winner 2012 Super Bowl commercial competition*

6:24: Law firm leveled and JPP down!  (Helluva set up.  Sounds like the politics of a bank bailout)

5:57: Statue of Brady not elusive enough on the pass rush.  It’s incredible that he hardly moves after the initial dropback.

4:30: Nicks’ sure hands led to a fumble where time stopped until the Giants recovered.  Very unnerving except for the Hoodie who looks like it’s a pre-season game.

1:08: Giants look flat and have looked flat all quarter.  Also, way too many in the booth shots this game.  I do not want to see Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth.  Let’s do better.

———————————————————————————

14:17: Statue Brady with an incredible scramble and a horrific throw down the field resulting in a INT.  This is two straight games with egregious deep balls.  This team does not have a deep threat sans the oft criticized Ochocinco.  Ehhh

13:58: Bradshaw FUMBLE and recovered by the Giants.  Quite fortunate thus far.

WHEN WILL ANYONE BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN THE POINT OF ARIAL COVERAGE FOR DOME GAMES!?

9:35: Mario Manningham draws the ire of Collinsworth – rightfully so- by giving Manning, Eli no room to throw the ball.  It’s a classic Manningham from his Michigan days.  (Jake Ballard and his sprained knee cannot run because he has a sprained knee)

9:31: I liked the defense on the controversial no call.  That drive cost the Giants two timeouts for the master of clock management Tom Coughlin.

7:14: Brady throws a block on a reverse.  Block used broadly to describe Statue collapsing in front of a player.

5:50: Game has a tense feel.  17-15 score does that but the game has been stuck at midfield by both teams in this quarter.

5:14: Brady first down to Hernandez.  Glad he is getting his time in the spot light!

4:00: Welker! Drop! Game changer? Just brutal.  Shocking.  Too wide open.

3:46: Deion Branch and Statue cannot connect.  Punt! Manning, Eli with one time out under four minutes….

3:39: Manningham atones for his failure with an amazing catch.  Amusing aspect of catch: everyone on the Pats sideline gesturing and moving while Hoodie steps back, arms crossed, and looking unimpressed.

2:00: Red zone!  The missed opportunities by Pats come down to this.  Question of the week: Was Welker’s drop a choke?

1:35: Question two: do you let the Giants score this late?

1:06: Giants control all elements of the game.  Unreal what this does to the Hoodie/Statute.

:57: Patriots left with one time out.  Jacobs was left to score but opted not to stop at the one.  Football IQ in the big game.  21-17 Giants!

:57: Brady prefers to be down with the ball than up and on the bench.  GAME ON!

:52: Deion Branch dropped the ball.  Brady is beaming it in there.

:48: Aaron Hernandez dropped.  Clutch ratings as a team dropping every second.

:36: Brady sack.  Couldn’t avoid the pressure because the blocking was poor.  Stunning!

:32: BRADY IS GETTING NO HELP.  SCRAMBLES AWAY FROM THE TWO MAN RUSH.  BULLET TO Branch! 4th and 16!

:09: Deep ball incomplete.  Too many men on field.  Hail Mary time!

:05: Pressure is getting to Brady.  Can’t develop the deep ball.  LAST PLAY!

Giants Win! 21-17.  Super Bowl Champs! Gronk came so close to getting the tipped ball.  The rhetoric of Manning in the head of Brady and Hoodie is alive and well.  Shocking!

Congrats to Clarke, Coughlin, and that’s about it!

Being the resident Cheese Head, here is my take on the Thanksgiving tradition of Lions vs….the Champs.

First Quarter

4:30: The gaps in the Packers run defense cannot be wider.  Kevin Smith is gashing the defense, opening up the passing game for wide open completions.  It is the most glaring weakness of this team and others cannot consistently exploit it.  It opens up the running back out the back field too.

2:12:  If I have said it once, I will say it twenty more times.  Mike McCarthy’s insistence on wearing a windbreaker indoors is one of the most indefensible things in football.  It is literally perfect weather because there is no weather.  It is 72 with no wind, sun, rain, snow, hail, or anything else that would require a windbreaker.  Schwartz is sporting a crummy sweatshirt but even that is better than a windbreaker.  Silly man.  Love to see the fans, referees, players, and everyone else with shirtsleeves other than McCarthy.

:17: Can Joe Buck sound more disinterested in calling this game or any football game?  We understand you want to watch football, eat, and not do your job but one does not need to be a tool about it.  Another 3 and out for the Packers.  Their commitment to run the ball is astounding given their limited (on a good day) success.  It often appears to be a waste of a down with a minimal gain or minor loss.  Still, Green Bay is a top team on play action passing so it works.

Thus far bend don’t break continues to work for the Packers.  Calvin Johnson did not get looks but his presence is felt with safeties leaning over top also leading to wide open receivers in the middle of the field.

Second Quarter

14:30: The doughy Matthew Stafford runs up the middle for a huge gain.  Lions keep going down the center of the field with tremendous success.  For some reason they stop doing this after they cross the 50.

13:00: Our annual Kevin Smith injury.  Tradition.

11:01: Lions crossed the 50 and netted -9 yards.  Baffling.

7:44: Penalties a huge factor for both teams with the referees calling a tight game.  Jermichael Finley yells a word that rhymes with duck in slow motion.  Whoops!

5:50: Nothing more satisfying that 3rd and 1 with the deep ball.  I am all about going play action on short yardage situations and going for it more often than not on 4th down but running reasonable plays is a must.  0-0 in a tightly contested game of pigskin and yellow flags.

5:33: Stafford pick off a tip.  Stafford developed a side arm tendency since wearing the glove and his past few games have been turn over plagued.

4:51: Seven points off the turnover.

1:07: Trumon Williams interrupted a Stafford to Megatron moment.  He has been on Johnson all game with clear safety help over the top.  Really opens up Woodson to do the things he can do like corner blitz, roam the field to pick balls off, and casually get away with making poor tackles every 8 plays.

Halftime: Packers and Lions get into a chippy fight.  Lions defense getting pressure on Rodgers, interrupting timing and productivity.  Clear disparity in production but penalties stifling both teams and keeping it close.

Third Quarter

11:30: Green Bay is moving the ball down the field at will.  Biggest difference on this drive and the entire first quarter?  Taking advantage of the week  outside cornerbacks and stretching the field on the outer thirds.

9:16: Gamechanger! Lions made a huge stop on third and goal and a mini-fight breaks out.  Suh stomps a Packers player and has been ejected from the contest.  Lions’ demeanor is on edge, taking its lead from its coach.  (Can we just admit how hilarious it was to watch Suh try to explain to his coach that he was just trying to get up?  He stomped the dude on the ground.  No excuse).

14-0 Packers.

6:50: Lions easily move into Packers territory.

5:36: Stafford throws his second interception of the game.  Pattern developing, no?

5:25: Rodgers deep touchdown off…play action to James Jones (65 yards)! Yahtzee!  21-0.

4:51: Woodson just absorbs a pass by Stafford and Fox Sports zooms in on the backup quarterback for some unknown reason.  Joe Buck and Troy Aikman just ignore it.

Fourth Quarter

11:00: Packers lazily allow a dominant drive down the field and a touchdown. 24-8.

0:00: 27- 15 Green Bay.  Packers started slow but played well and the defense did fantastic against a high powered offense.  I did not even break anything in route to the win.  Happy Turkey Day