Monday, November 27, 2006

Maybe it IS time to put skirts on them.

Mayhap you have seen the clip of Vince Young about to be sacked late in the 4th quarter of the Giants-Titans game yesterday. If you have, any commentary that was provided by the random talking heads surely marvelled at the abilities of Young to escape that sure sack and keep the drive alive. But if you look at the actual clip, you will be able to see that it isn't the case at all. As of right now, I cannot find the video to post, but I am assuming that if you are enough of a sports nut to be reading this little thing, you have seen it.

So the Giants player that had Vince dead to rights was rookie Mathias Kiwanuka. He had his arms wrapped around him and was beginning to drive him back. Then he let go. WHY WOULD HE LET GO?!?!? I will tell you why. No one has come out and said this, but I cannot fathom any other reason why this would happen. You would be hard pressed to convince me that there is another reason, even though no one involved will ever admit it.

He let him go because the NFL has made protecting the quarterback such a high priority that defensive players are becoming so frightened of getting hit with a roughing the passer penalty that they can't be effective any more. It was 4th and 10, and roughing the passer is 15 yards. A rookie is always fighting just to stick around long enough to show he belongs (unless he is a top 15-20 pick. After that, there isn't a lot of slack, even for 1st rounders). Kiwanuka was so scared of making that fatal "rookie mistake" that he made a fatal rookie mistake.

I know that quarterbacks and kickers need to be protected more than other players. They make themselves more vulnerable to being hurt, just because of the position that they play. If you didn't protect your punter, then someone could come flying in while his leg is still in the air during the follow through, and break the guy in half (and I am not exaggerating by all that much). And the QB needs to be looking at the entire field, so he cannot focus all of his time and energy into the 5-7 300lb+ men who are barreling down on him like he is the last of the all you can eat riblets at Applebees. I am okay with the slide rule (for all the good it did Trent Green), I am okay with the no intentional grounding when outside of the pocket (which usually means that he is running for his very life), even though it costs my team more than a lot of others, since the Ravens' defense is built around getting pressure on the quarterback using a variety of schemes and stunts.I think hits at and below the knees should be illegal for everyone (that does not mean you cannot "shoestring tackle" people, but barrelling in and heading for the knees is an A-HOLE move, and that goes for offensive linemen "blocking" too. Are you listening Denver Broncos? I'm talking to you, you cheap shot artists). But it seems to me that the protecting of the QB has become too much of a focus in the game, and it is making it near impossible to use pressure to affect the outcome of the game. No matter HOW much danger they put themselves in, QB's ARE football players (the jury is still out on kickers, punters are closer to football players than kickers, but that is still one hell of a bell curve). NFL QB's have been playing the position and the sport long enough to know that football is a violent sport, and that they are going to get hit. They are the ones who decided that they wanted to play the position in the first place. Now they have to be able to accept the pounding.

Am I out of line thinking like this? Am I wrong in saying that quarterbacks are being mollycoddled to an embarassing degree now? Is anyone else wondering what Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw and Fran Tarkenton could do with the rules the way they are now? Speak up sports fans of America. Let your voice be read!

Also, I am officially accepting topics you would like discussed. Be they sports topics or a topic that is related to or could affect sports, ask me and I will try my best to answer them.


Friday, November 24, 2006

I know, it is week 11 and the first half of the season ended 2 weeks ago. Hell, 6 teams are preparing for week 12 already, but situations beyond my control have forced me to severely curtail my blogging. However, I am back, and as the NFL prepares for the stretch run, it is time to look at the BSR Power Rankings (patent pending)...

32. Detroit Lions
Their best player (RB Kevin Jones) missed the game on Thanksgiving and could be out even longer with an ankle injury. Kon Kitna is a class act, and I respect him as a human being. But at this point, he should be nothing more than a backup/mentor for a young QB, like he was for Carson Palmer in Cincy. Mike Williams (he of the tried to declare early for the draft and wound up being a top 10 pick the following year) got his 1st catch yesterday. For 7 yards. I have heard rumors that he is thinking of retiring after the season. If the Lions try to trade him, it will be for a 5th to 6th round pick at best, unless they just release him outright. All I know is that I want an executive position in a Ford owned company. If nothing else has been proved by the Matt Millen Era in Detroit, it is that you don't have to be even marginally talented at your job to work for them. Floor workers can be maid off at the drop of a hat, but the exec's? I would take THAT golden parachute ANYTIME.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Now Simeon Rice is out for the season as well as Chris Simms, and there is talk that Rice is done with the Bucs as of the end of the year. Jon Gruden makes it clear that he is not putting out feelers to see if any other team is looking for a head coach so that he can escape this sinking ship with the rest of the rats? Sounds to me like someone was protesting too much. Are there any other pirate-themed teams he can jump to? Maybe in Division 1-AA? Chucky's number might be up. Heh, up-Chucky. That's kinda funny.

30. Oakland Raiders
Somebody, ANYBODY, please check Art Shell and see if he has a pulse. It is almost as if (nerd alert) he is pulling a Dr. Strange and his astral self is leaving his body during the game and just flitting about in whatever city the Raiders are playing in that week. Anyone who can show me video of him blinking on the sidelines will win a prize. Just autonomic response baby!

29. Arizona Cardinals
Who the hell is teaching that offensive line how to block, Harry Swayne? Yes, before you ask, I am still a little bit bitter about that guy. But seriously, how does Dennis Green (I can't call anyone Denny. I can't type Denny without craving a Moons over My Hammy, and I am on a diet) expect to win when his QB and running game are running around like Pac Man and there are no power pellets in sight? It might be time for Green to get into broadcasting for a while. But no matter who the coach is after the season, getting some quality beef on that O-Line had better be priority number 1 this off season.

28. Cleveland Browns
I still like Romeo Crennel. And I still like Braylon Edwards. But he needs to learn that you cannot call yourself better than the team that just beat you. Your team blew a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter against a team that was THIS CLOSE to giving up on the season. No, you are not better than them. At least not on THAT day (I am officially naming that particular phenomenon the "T.J. Whosyourmama Law").

27. Houston Texans
Gary Kubiak might just be a good coach. But allowing ANY kind of possible QB controversy between David Carr and Sage Rosenfels was stupid. I don't care how well he ended the rumors, he should have never allowed them to start.

26. Washington Redskins
Joe Gibbs is not the answer here. It reminds me of when Earl Weaver tried to come back to he O's after he retired to his tomato plants in sunny Florida. His heart isn't in it, and the game is not the same game he coached. Go back to NASCAR Joe (of course, since I am NOT a Redskins fan, I would be fine if he stayed and kept this team floundering for another few years).

25. Tennessee Titans
Vince Young needs at least another 2 years, and as long as WMMLG (Wal Mart Manager Looking Guy) is the coach, I will not expect them to do well.

24. Buffalo Bills
J.P. Losman is not the answer there. Maybe a trade for Byron Leftwich would be in order. I understand that there is a good chance he would be available sometime in early January. They will go nowhere until they get a QB who can play.

23. Green Bay Packers
I am glad to see Brett Favre having fun again. And I DO believe that he has earned the right to decide when he is done. But I really hope this season is it, whether he passes Dan Marino for career TD passes or not. I REALLY don't want to see him ending like Willie Mays playing out the string with the Mets, or like Brooks Robinson did in 78 with the Orioles. I like him too much to want to see him like that.

22. Saint Louis Rams
That blip on the Richter scale in the midwest? That was all of the people jumping off of the Rams' bandwagon. There may have been some carryover from the same thing happening in Denver.

21. New Orleans Saints
I do not know if Drew Brees will be able to hold up for the rest of the season with the way he has been flinging the ball around on that recently repaired shoulder. They have Deuce AND Reggie Bush, and yet he is throwing for 500+ yards in a game that was tied going into the 4th quarter? In the words of Jimmy Johnson, "Duh-umb". And the defense is just not ready to go to the next leverl. But I still say that 2007 they make the playoffs, possibly win a game there. And if they address the defensive needs to my satisfaction, they will be my pick to win the NFC South next year.

20. Minnesota Vikings
When do the pitchers and catchers report again? Team needs an overhaul, and I want to see what Brad Childress can do with a decent offense to go woth that run defense. And the run defense is even more impressive when you look at their pass defense and the fact that teams are trying to grind out the clock on them by the middle of the 3rd quarter pretty much every game.

19. Atlanta Falcons
Jim Mora Sr. is right. Unless you are playing Madden, Vick is not the answer at QB. The only real success that they had was when they were running the option, and Mr. Easterbrook pointed out much better than I could that it is basically a high school offense. You know what they say about pride goeth-ing... (is goeth-ing even within the vicinity of being a word? It matters not here)

18. New York Giants
Tiki has officially become a distraction. I didn't want to jump on the side of those who have been calling it that, but it is true. It isn't like Kareem and Ripken announcing their retirement halfway through their lasst seasons. Everyone was expecting the announcement from them sooner or later. Tiki shocked everyone. If nothing else, he should have gone to the coaches and FO first, and then maybe made a private announcement to the team. For someone with such blatant broadcasting and entertainment aspirations, he sure didn't play THAT card right. He is an adult and can do whatever he wants with his life. And I am pretty sure he has enough money put away to let him rest for a while before moving on. But he definitely could have handled that better. Add to that the annual Manning Meltdown (Eli, being younger, begins melting down BEFORE the playoffs. Peyton waits until January in order not to steal the spotlight) and it will be mediocrity from New York even if they DO make the playoffs this year.

17. Philadelphia Eagles
This is all about McNabb being out. I just cannot see Feely OR Garcia taking them anywhere but the front half to front third of the 1st round of the 2007 Draft. Philadelphia fans will continue to suffer, drink, accost and basically be the little Satan's minions that they have been. Sorry guys.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers
What is the over/under on Cowher packing up his office after the last game? I am saying two weeks. He needs about 2 years off, and then a fresh start on a new team. Noll, Landry and Shula are the exception, not the rule.

15. Denver Broncos
Jake Plummer was doomed right after the 11th pick of the past draft. I like to think he knew that. He is a team player, he just won't be playing on this team anymore. Jay Cutler T minus 5...4...

14. San Francisco 49'ers
Frank Gore needs to learn the joys of whatever legal alternative there is for Stickum and Coach Nolan needs to allow him to get the tough yards in the red zone. But Alex Smith is getting noticably better as the weeks go by, and that is without Vernon Davis, who could return as early as this Sunday against Seattle. 5-5 and definitely in the playoff hunt in the weak NFC. This is another one of those teams that looks to be a solid contender in the next year or two. Also, on a personal note, Nolan looked sharp in the suit. I like it, and I hope other coaches (are you listening Andy Reid and Bill Bellichek?) follow suit (no pun intended).

13. New York Jets
I was not that surprised by the Jets-Pats game a couple of weeks ago. The Jets just don't have the personnel to compete on a weekly basis yet. But as long as they keep that O-Line intact and add a few more impact players, I think they could unseat the Pats from the AFC East perch as early as next year. Believe me, it is not easy for a Baltimore native to say that. But they are closer than you think (unless you agree with me, in which case they ARE as close as you think).

12. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jeckyll and Hyde in ugly uniforms. And is it just me or is Matt Jones quickly turning into a paler version of Randy Moss, only without the career statistics to back him up?

11. Miami Dolphins
Finishing strong in the 2nd half of the season again. Not enough to do anything more than make people over-rank them again next year (and possibly this year. They are 12th by attrition here). Also, can we officially end the Culpepper-is-a-good-QB crap now? The Joey Harrington Era is upon us. Bask in its mediocrity!

10. Cincinatti Bengals
Too little too late. They will be contenders again next year. Palmer finally looks like he isn't afraid every time a defender gets within 5 yards of his knees, and Chad Johnson has stopped talking (at least as much as he is able to) and started playing. Even so, the team is not focused on the game, and that falls on the shoulders of Marvin Lewis. Get 'em in line coach. Otherwise, we will gladly take you back in a year or two when Rex Ryan leaves to become a head coach and we need a new Defensive Coordinator. Who says you can't go home again?

9. Seattle Seahawks
Injuries have pushed them down here. But does anyone want to play a rested and refreshed Shawn Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck in December? I don't care where the games are being played.

8. Dallas Cowboys
Romo might just be the real deal. And if so, the Cowboys are another team that will cause nightmares in January. Now if T.O. can learn how to hold on the damn ball (maybe Keyshaun can right another book?).

7. Kansas City Chiefs
Trent Green is back. Larry Johnson is starting to run like he was at the end of last year (although I see a Jamal Anderson like career for him if he keeps averaging close to 400 carries a season like he is now). Now tied for 2nd in the division (and holding the tiebreaker), and knocking on the door should San Diego falter. if they make the playoffs, they could make some noise. They are built to be able to win on the road.

6. New England Patriots
Note to Robert Kraft and the FO...SPEND SOME OF THAT DAMN MONEY!!!! You have one of the highest ticket prices in the league and plenty of cap space. Personally, I have no problem with the Pats not being the dynasty for a while, but why waste the prime years of Brady and Lawrence Maroney (who is going to be a beast next year once they make him the featured back. Sorry Corey Dillon, but it is time to move on). Get Brady some real receivers and get the defense some help (and while you are at it, you might want to write a couple of extra checks for Troy Brown. It is not often that a team's all time leading reveiver will go over and play defense. The fact that he has done it repeatedly, and done a solid job, is more reason to give him an extra nice Christmas bonus. Pay the man!).

5. Carolina Panthers
If they can put together a whole game (like a certain team that is about to be mentioned), they can fulfill 99% of the world's predictions and go to the Super Bowl. But can they do that?

4. Baltimore Ravens
And can the Ravens? It is obvious now that Billick made the right move inserting himself into the Off. Coord. position. The Ravens are finally playing some decent offense, and Jamal Lewis is showing signs of being the back he was, if not 3 years ago, maybe 4 or 5 when he was good but not magical. The O-line is finally starting to play decently. But that secondary still scares the crap out of me. They could win it all or lose in the 1st round. They are too all over the place to slot, but 8-2 with a 3 game lead in the division puts them in the top 5.

3. Chicago Bears
The cream of the NFC (right now). But can they beat the cream of the AFC? We will start finding out on Sunday.

2. Indianapolis Colts
Tough choice not making them number 1, what with the best record in the NFL and probable home field advantage through the playoffs (is there anyone besides me who can't hear or read the word "playoffs" without hearing Jim Mora Sr.'s voice in their head? "Playoffs? PLAYOFFS? Diddly-poo!"). But I really think that if they played right now that the Chargers would beat them, even without Shawn Merriman. And that leads me to...

1. San Diego Chargers
LT. That is enough to get them top 10. Phillip Rivers (even if he doesn't know how to get the ball to Antonio Gates, which has just KILLED my fantasy team) puts them top 5. That defense, with a rested Shawn Merriman (4 weeks of no contact to heal up any lingering injuries, 4 weeks of pent up aggression to take out on opposing teams. Scary) puts them top 2. However, the defense has shown signs of weakness (yes the comebacks the last 2 weeks were impressive. But it should not have come to that). Honestly, at this point it is a three team race for the AFC crown, and the NFC champs (either Chicago, Seattle, or Carolina) will have to hope that whatever team emerges from the AFC has been so beat up by the playoff fight that they are weakened enough for to be beaten. Of course, people were saying the same thing about the NL during the baseball playoffs. If a team can start peaking in the next week or two (Ravens in 2000, Steelers last year), they will run aeay with it. If I had to pick it right now, I would say Seattle and San Diego. San Diego wins 38-24. That is why they are the top team.

There you have it. Next rankings will be only playoff teams. If I am feeling saucy, I will make my playoff predictions all the way through to the Super Bowl. Then 3 weeks later I will make a new Super Bowl prediction once both teams are eliminated by the second round.

At least I am honest.