Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

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
Tags: , ,

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?

Generally viral videos of “cute” things do not move my meter.  Little kids playing with dogs, cats startled by shadows, or people helping others across the street don’t make my heart melt into a puddle of rainbows and honey.  I suppose this is why people think I don’t like animals or any type of happiness.  I do like it but I am not moved by seeing it…2 million times on YouTube.  All of that ended when I saw a video from Arizona Cardinals training camp – a brief but meaningful meeting between linebacker Sam Acho and Camrynn, a five year old (or so) girl waiting with her family to meet players.  Training camp is a very unique and special environment where established players can share meaningful moments with the fans that adore them, furthering the narrative that players are motivated by money and the cheering spectators.  Or at least that is what I want to think.

Anyway, this video really got brought me in touch with my softer side.  Maybe it was Acho’s willingness to come over and spend so much time with one person.  Talking to Camrynn, taking a picture, and signing the ball without feeling rushed to get to other fans.  Maybe it was Camrynn herself too young to know that Sam Acho is a “big deal” relative to other people but not yet cynical to the narratives surrounding “selfish” athletes.  Maybe it was the relative joy on both their faces coming from two different backgrounds able to share a moment of commonality amid the brutish nature of the sport that everyone came to take in.  Maybe it is trying to figure out what Camrynn could have been contemplating at the :45 second mark where she was eagerly reviewing the autographs (scribbling?) on the football only to come up with the magical words.  “I love you, Sam.”  Maybe that is what love at first sight means in sports.  Not said seductively but with a heart of uncorrupted by double meanings, social expectations, and divisions across every –ism imaginable.

Maybe it was the fact that Camrynn could say “I love you” to someone of a different race now when in many places at any age that statement would immediately be met with punishment for both parties involved.  Maybe it was Sam’s genuine response (“I love you too Camrynn…You just made my day”) absorbed with laughter but still informally punished by death in less progressive parts of America that live, breathe, eat, and sleep football.  Maybe it is special because the only thing Camrynn said that her parents didn’t prompt her to say was “I love you, Sam.”

Maybe all these things are on my mind but it shouldn’t shock anyone that of the millions of “cute” videos on the internet, the one that I finally appreciate happens in sports.

Earlier this week, the 49ers emerged as a one of the teams interested in signing former Indianapolis Colt’s superstar quarterback Peyton Manning. Reportedly, the 49ers worked out Manning, with Jim Harbaugh leading the work out. This new development was quite surprising because the 49ers have maintained the public stance that they intended on re-signing Alex Smith, the quarterback that “led” them to the NFC Championship game.

So, what does the 49ers’ interest in Manning say about the 49ers’ view of Smith? I posed this question to ALL II because he has been an ardent supporter of Smith. The result was a lengthy and a sometimes hostile discussion in an email chain.

Cheeks: 49ers have emerged as the third team in the Peyton sweepstakes. Allen, you still think that the 49ers truly believe that A. Smith is good enough to lead them to the Superbowl? Their interest in Peyton indicates otherwise.

ALL II: For the foolish people that make these kinds of assertions all the time, it is worth reminding YOU and others that interest in another entity does NOT mean lack of belief in what is there. I just got into an argument about Obama not closing Guantanamo Bay and how this indicated that his preferences changed on the issue. This logic is pretty friggin stupid. Not closing Gitmo indicates opposition from people in the organization (government) but it has NO bearing on preference changes. Similarly, interest in Manning – to me – indicates that believe Manning can lead the team to the Super Bowl. It DOES NOT mean that the team doesn’t think Smith can lead them to a Super Bowl, perhaps that one can do so in a more immediate fashion.  That said, I think Peyton ends up Denver where the organization is clear that they do not believe Tebow can lead them to a Super Bowl. Also, the 49ers got amazingly close to a super bowl with crappier receivers so I doubt the organization is wavering in its belief in Smith.  Jeez….”indicates otherwise”…do better. As if you cannot have belief in two people….as if Peyton is going to play another 7 years!?  GTFO

Cheeks: Awww…You mad because your Boo is not getting any respect?…Here is where your analogy falls short. In order for Obama to get things done, he needs the support and approval from people in the organization. He can be staunch advocate of something but if he can’t get others to support his cause then his cause will be rendered ineffective. So, in the situation that you cited, it would be misguided to infer Obama’s preference. For the 49ers, the power dynamics are vastly different. Jim Harbaugh holds a lot of sway in that organization and when it comes to quarterbacks, you would think that he has the ultimate say. Anything that involves bringing in a quarterback to replace his purported darling (i.e. Alex Smith) would be strictly his call. So, for the 49ers to go after Manning–and for Harbaugh to be the one running the workouts–I think indicates that he has some doubts about Alex Smith.

Look at the other teams that we know for sure had interest in Manning. Seattle, Washington, Arizona, NY Jets, Miami, Denver, Tennessee & KC. It is widely believed around the league that those teams weren’t particularly fond of their quarterback and were looking to upgrade if possible. So, if that was the case for those teams then why can’t I assume that the 49ers also are not fully sold on their quarterback? Teams typically go after a quarterback of Manning’s caliber with health issues when they aren’t completely sold on their quarterback (See the Brett Favre situation). If it is incorrect to interpret a teams’ interest in Manning as an indictment of their current quarterback, then why the hell aren’t teams like the Bears, Lions, & Falcons going after Manning? The quarterbacks for those teams have not led their team to a Superbowl and the teams are comprised of Superbowl caliber talent. The reason is because those teams truly believe that their current quarterback is capable of leading their team to a Superbowl.

Manning will not play 7 more years but I assure you that the 49ers will NOT re-sign A. Smith if they sign Peyton.

Also, the low-key nature with which the 49ers have pursued Peyton is very suspicious.

EIC (aka Bunker): New York Giants – Superbowl Champions.

ALL II: The 49ers like Alex Smith. Coach Jim Harbaugh has repeatedly expressed his affinity for Smith. Taking a look at another veteran quarterback would threaten the relationship between the two, but Manning is a special case. Looking into a four-time MVP quarterback and future Hall of Famer doesn’t qualify as a personal affront to a quarterback with one winning season on his resume. The assumption here is that Harbaugh has communicated the team’s intentions to Smith, either directly or through Condon, and that the 49ers feel comfortable in their ability to move forward with Smith if Manning does not come to San Francisco. (http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/61101/manningwatch-five-thoughts-on-49ers)

Cheeks: What else do you think Jim Harbaugh would say?! You think that if he had some doubts about Smith that he would express them to Smith? C’mon Allen. Like you like to say: DO BETTER!! Communicating with Smith is the prudent thing to do because it is not a certainty that they will land Manning. Manning is a special case yet the Lions, Bears, and Falcons are not interested but the 49ers are and they have not re-signed Smith. I’ll leave you with this: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

ALL II: I think you are absolutely misevaluating the actions as they relate to the question: Do the 49ers think Smith can lead them to a Super Bowl?  Dealing with Manning indicates: we think Manning can do that.  It may be a difference in certainty but that should not be confused with believing he cannot.

EIC: As the only one who has access to Peyton Manning’s agents. The 49ers, while expressing interest are merely doing their due diligence as a franchise. One 49er source said, if we didn’t look into it, it would be tantamount to malpractice and outright irresponsibility.

Cheeks: “Difference in certainty” essentially implies that the 49ers have some doubts. They believe that Peyton can lead them to a Superbowl but aren’t completely sure that Smith can. And I go back to what I said earlier. What else did you think that Harbaugh would tell Smith?

Yes. Not looking into Peyton is certainly tantamount to malpractice and outright irresponsibility when Alex “Average” Smith is your quarterback. Lol

ALL II: Dude, a friggin four time MVP and someone widely considered as a top five greatest QB ever is a unique situation even if you have an above average QB.

Cheeks: A QB that is coming off 4 neck surgeries and is 35 years old is only a unique situation for teams that have doubts about their QB.

ALL: Absolutely not…again, ignoring the body of work.

Thank you Mr. Moneybags.

ZIP IT

Cheeks: Absolutely not ignoring the body of work. I’m taking everything into consideration. The quarterback situation of the teams that were/are interested is telling.

ALL II: If you could not read between the lines of the Manning people and the positive support for Smith, I don’t know what to say.

Cheeks: 49ers like Smith but they have doubts hence the pursuit of Manning. Fair?

EIC: (Allen just cursed and said “that’s what the fuck I been saying”)

ALL II: NO! Pursuing Manning does not indicate doubt. For instance, I have no doubt that Westbrook is a great point guard but if I could get Chris Paul I would at least have the conversation

EIC: Allen to say that the 49ers have no doubt about Smith you’d be silly. Get it together. I don’t see the Pats, Saints, Panthers, Giants, Ravens, etc. hitting up Manning…wanna know why? They don’t have doubts about their Quarterback. Alex Smith is a pretty doubtful/unknown quantity.

Thus I have to agree with Cheeks as to why they are going after the 2nd best Manning.

Cheeks: Thank you Brian. Allen, suck it! By the way, having a conversation is different from running someone through a workout for the purposes of signing them.

ALL II: All the same to me…no real threat. I certainly am not putting Smith in the elite zone but I am saying it is fundamentally different than Denver, Tennessee, and Seattle.

The End

The trade acquisition of Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins brought a lot of joy and excitement to Bears’ players, fans, and to me. The Bears acquired Marshall for one third round pick in 2012 and another in 2013 even though he is big, physical, tough, has good football intelligence, good hands, is unquestionably a top-10 receiver, and is only 27 years old. Marshall greatly enhances the Bears’ receiver group and his presence allows the other receivers to play roles that better fits their skill levels. Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox, and Devin Hester will be bumped down a peg. They now will become the #2, #3, and #4 receivers respectively and consequently, they should produce at a more consistent rate. Also important is that Jay Cutler is enamored with Marshall.

I was giddy, elated, and euphoric—or any word that denotes a positive mood—when I first heard of the trade. The move was so surprising and hard to believe that a friend called me confirm that the reports are true. In the minds of many, the Bears completely fleeced the Dolphins. The Dolphins acquired Marshall from the Denver Broncos two years ago for two second round draft picks yet they traded him away for only two third round picks despite the fact that Marshall is still an elite receiver.

That prompted the question: Why were the Dolphins willing to trade a highly valuable player for something far below his worth?

Jeff Darlington, current NFL Network reporter and former Dolphins beat writer, reported on his Twitter account that the “Dolphins believe getting rid of Marshall will allow new coach to put his program into place without issues or distractions,” per his sources. The “issues or distractions” refer to the several legal troubles that have plagued Marshall since his days at the University of Central Florida. He has been arrested seven times and has had several more bouts with the law. Other NFL pundits speculated that Peyton Manning might have indicated to the Dolphins that he has no desire to sign with the Dolphins if Marshall is still apart of the team.

Whatever the reason was, I was well aware that Marshall came with plenty of baggage and was still comfortable with the acquisition simply because he had conducted himself as a civil citizen since the time that he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder last summer. Some of his misconducts are the result of suffering from the disorder and I was confident that Marshall could stay away from trouble as long as he continued to work towards quelling the disorder.

But the recent altercation involving Marshall at a nightclub during which he allegedly punched a woman has certainly shaken my confidence. Nevertheless, I still approve of the trade despite all the signs that say that I should condemn the move because Marshall provides the Bears with a much-needed, legitimate #1 receiver.

 

 

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!