Friday, January 28, 2011

Three Way the NFL can Improve It's Product

If only the NFL knew what they were missing by not employing me as a consultant.
Make the coin toss to the Super Bowl a minimum of twenty four hours before the actual kickoff to the game
Sounds weird? Let me explain. The point of this rule, would be that the coin toss would generate the same sort of publicity as a public weigh in before a boxing match. Team captains can sneer at each other and great photo opportunities will be produced. Broadcast it on t.v., and suddenly NFL Network can add some much needed substance to it's weeklong coverage of Super Bowl that's lacking big time in it. Jamie Dukes and Marshall Faulk can predict who will win the coin toss, before the coverage kicks over to FOX for the official 'AT&T Coin Toss Show'. The teams and fans now know whose getting the ball to start the first and second halves before the teams even get on the field. Tell me that isn't a new, fresh way to view a football game, and tell me it won't get bigger numbers than Deion Sanders and Steve Mariucci half-assing their analyst duties.
So teams don't know who the inactives. The part of the coin toss procedure where teams choose sides supposedly based on breeze can still be done on the field before the game. This rule change shouldn't be a big deal. It's not like other competitive aspects of the game aren't compromised during the Super Bowl. Forty-five minute halftime, gimme a break.
Anyway, if Roger Goodell had any brains, he'd put this to an owner's vote today.
2. Let the Two Point Conversion count for Two Points, Offense or Defense
Sounds complicated? It's not. Everyone has watched a football game before when on a two point try, a pass is picked off, a fumble is recovered, and the play is whistled dead. The defense can run all they want, they're not gettin' those two points if they get the ball to the other team's end zone. This is silly. Why take away excitement from a football game? Adding in another factor into a team's decision-making process in going for two makes the game more interesting to me, personally.
So Roger Goodell, if you have any brains, you'll adapt the one rule college does better than the pro's.
3. Once the NFL goes to an Eighteen Game Schedule, go back to a Sixteen Game Schedule
This one's obvious.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NFL Week 7 Musings

-Sorry Raheem Morris. Don't be offended if I don't want to root for your reclamation project in Tampa. Your declaration that your Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "the best team in the NFC" after your 18-17 win over the St. Louis Rams sunday, does not endear me to your cause. No doubt your team has talent. LB Quincy Black and CB Aqib Talib are standouts on defense and WR Mike Williams has been a pleasant play-making surprise this season. QB Josh Freeman has the ability to manage a game and not throw back breaking interceptions.
However, if there's something that can keep this team from a playoff berth or even a winning record this season is the lack of a pass rush so far. The team has registered only five sacks through six games this season, and the team lacks a go to edge rusher. Perhaps the development of DT Gerald McCoy may bring a consistent pass rush in the coming years. But for now, Buc's fans should still file this season under 'rebuilding' status despite the 4-2 start.
-There is a definite lack of talent on the Denver Bronco's defense. The losses of OLB's Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers has revealed the lack of depth on the unit, and the defense has become sieve-like.
-Packers Coach Mike McCarthy needs to sit down QB Aaron Rodgers and drill into his head 'stop throwing interceptions'. He's still too early in his career to become what Brett Favre became later in his.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Here's What I thought of Week One

Maybe you missed these stories from the NFL's first week, maybe you didn't.

-The Kansas City defense was a truly pitiful unit last year. A unit that had trouble getting off the field and was seemingly littered with first round flameouts had alot to do with the Chief's 4-12 record last year. Outside Linebacker Tamba Hali and Cornerback Brandon Flowers had really the only notably positive seasons.
But Monday night against San Diego, suddenly those first round ne'er-do-wells grew up. Defensive Lineman Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey had received mixed reviews throughout their first couple years in the league. On monday, San Diego struggled to establish their running game as both Jackson and Dorsey rarely were moved out of their gaps and frequently penetrated the Charger's backfield . Linebacker, Derrick Johnson showed immense talent at The University of Texas, but never quite realized that same talent at the pro level. His underachieving career finally came to a head this pre-season when he mostly played on the second defense throughout training camp.
Monday night he may have had the best game of any linebacker on opening weekend. Suddenly this doesn't seem like such a long season in Kansas City.

-Bob Sanders, Orlando Pace, Steve McNair. What do these three players have in common? They're the reigning and former kings of the 'it's only a matter of time before they get injured' category. Backup Strong Safety Melvin Bullitt has made a career out of Bob Sander's reliability (or is it the other way around) and is quick to remind us that Indianapolis doesn't lose much with him on the field. If Sanders keeps going down like this, Bullitt will become a household name.

-Let's play a game of 'Who Said It?'. Which Quarterback had the following quote on Sunday?
"I played terrible. It was as bad as I can play. I've got to be better. I missed alot of throws. The defense played good. We made enough plays to win. I personally made too many dumb mistakes."

A) Matt Moore, Carolina: 14/33, 182 yds., 1 TD's, 3 INT'S, 32.6 QB Rating, Loss
B) Matt Ryan, Atlanta: 27/44, 252 yds., 0 TD's, 1 INT, 67.6 QB Rating, Loss
C) Aaron Rodgers: 19/31, 188 yds., 2 TD'S, 2 INT'S, 73.1 QB Rating, Win

The answer is C) Aaron Rodgers.

-Criticize Eagles Coach Andy Reid all you want for any of the shoddy game management strategy he has displayed in the past, because you can forget it all. On Sunday the shoddiest decision he could have ever made was allowing Middle Linebacker Stewart Bradley back out on the field after watching him fall to his knees due to an apparent concussion, and that's exactly what he did.

-And speaking of the Eagles, Cornerback Ellis Hobbs is going to get picked on alot this year. Belichick and the Patriots let him and fellow Corner Asante Samuel walk for a reason.

-Charger's QB Philip Rivers shouldn't hold himself in too high a regard that he can't bring himself to see an anger management specialist. Rivers' on-field tantrums do nothing for a team that has repeatedly burned out when the games really start to count.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Going Around the NHL

-With the acquisition of Scott Walker, Eric Belanger, and Joe Corvo at the trade deadline last wednesday, there were going to be some controversial healthy scratch decisions needed to be made by the Washington Capitals. The lucky fellow for Monday's game against Dallas was Tomas Fleischmann, who's accumulated all of forty-five points in fifty-four games this season. Just an embarrassment of riches for the Capitals.
-The Olympics were a time for not so recognizable names to make them so. Ryan Miller accomplished this with flying colors. But perhaps lost in the praise of Miller, was much publicity for his USA teammate, Defenseman Ryan Suter. Finding himself paired with the transcendent USA Defenseman, Brian Rafalski, the silky smooth Suter was put on the ice by coach Ron Wilson for nearly every big situation throughout the team's Olympic run.
-This has been the second straight season Maple Leaf's Defenseman Tomas Kaberle should have been traded at the deadline and wasn't. At some point, pinning the blame on a stagnant trade market must end, and real, constructive criticism for GM Brian Burke must begin.
-My early Western Conference Final Pick: How about the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks. Alot of similarities between this year's Kings team, and last year's Blackhawks team that went took a trip to the west finals.
-My early pick for the Eastern Conference Final: Could it really be anything other than the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals?
-And my Stanley Cup Final prediction is the same one I chose before the season even began: The Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Non Super Bowl Sports thoughts

Basically for the next two weeks, your going to be inundated with Super Bowl, and a large majority of it won't have much substance to it, and if it has any substance to it, it will probably be shoved down our throat so excessively we wish it wasn't even brought up in the first place. Case in point, the New Orleans Saints' 'a city and its team' storyline has some actual merit to it, and is worth being discussed, but not to the degree it actually will be covered over the next two weeks.

And really, don't get me started on Super Bowl Media Day. It might as well be renamed 'Late Night Talk Show doing their 'Man on the Street' bits with jocks' day.

But thats enough about the Super Bowl, you'll get plenty of coverage of it elsewhere, but if you need a safe haven, just for a little bit, you came to the right place. So here are my thoughts on random topics that have nothing to do with the Super Bowl.
-Please take all this NFL Labor strife with a grain of salt. I don't doubt that there is some truth to the owner's and player's being far apart on a new CBA, but some of these statements coming out from both sides are simply jockeying for position at the negotiating table. I think the Players and Owners are reserved to the fact that the 2010 season will go uncapped, but the way NFLPA President Kevin Mawae and NFLPA Executive Director Demaurice Smith make out the situation, you'd think the 2011 season was only a month away.
And when I say take everything that comes out of this story with a grain of salt, I include those who cover and commentate on the NFL. Obviously, they need something to report on this story, and if they say to take these dire forecasts with a grain of salt, then they're pretty much undermining their own story.
At this point, the American viewing public doesn't think they can live without NFL on fall sundays. I would like to think Roger Goodell would be smart enough to foster negotiations between the two sides so as not to actually test this hypothesis out.
-There's just something about watching a team that does all the little things right. That is the 2009-10 Houston Rockets, a team I found myself rooting for, for that one reason only.
-For those of you who watched HBO Boxing After Dark on Saturday Night, does it really get much more impressive than what Yuriorkis Gamboa did to Rogers Mtagwa?
-At some point, the Calgary Flames won't underacheive anymore. Maybe those guys just aren't that good? Did somebody tell GM Darryl Sutter that adding a player like Jay Bouwmeester shouldn't cause a playoff team to miss them the next year. Even if they do end up making the playoffs, would another first round playoff exit be an acceptable outcome to the Flames' front office?
-Nothing against a wonderful city like Vancouver, but these Olympic Games already appear to look like a dud. Someone should've told Pierre De Coubertin that sometimes global financial meltdowns happen. Oddly enough though, I don't see it dampening the rest of the world's mood for World Cup Soccer later this year.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What interests me for this weekend of Football

There is no better weekend of sports than the NFL divisional round weekend. It is absolutely the highest drama football we see all year. Highest drama football? What about the Conference title games and the Super Bowl, silly? Those are dramatic yes, but if you make it to a conference title game or a Super Bowl, most ways you slice it, thats a very successful season that you can be very proud of. To me, having a first round bye and then losing your first-playoff game is downright embarrassing.
Coaches always say the fear of losing is a greater motivator than the joy of winning. I think this applies to what makes sports dramatic as well. Losing the Super Bowl isn't nearly as heart-wrenching as losing your first playoff game in the divisional round. The 2007 Patriots, while losing the Super Bowl in about as gut wrenching fashion as possible, still won the AFC title that season. On the other hand, the Kansas City Chiefs went 13-3 and had a first round bye in the playoffs twice in the nineties under Marty Schottenheimer, and twice they lost. Ask their fans if they would trade both those seasons for just one loss in the Super Bowl and I think it'd be a no-brainer. Alot of things just went right for your team to get eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, maybe even fifteen and sixteen wins, and to waste that by not even winning one home playoff game is about as depressing as sports fandom gets.

So, now that the stakes are set, lets look at the games.

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints 4:30 Saturday FOX
So Arizona saw their twenty-one point fourth quarter lead evaporate to the Green Bay Packers, yet they still sneaked by the Green Bay Packers on a blown call in overtime, in the meantime giving up forty-five points, thirty five of them while protecting a lead in the second half. Now this week they face virtually the same offense, only more varied with more weapons in the New Orleans, and do I think the Cardinals will win? No, I don't think the Cardinals will win.
Its been the opinion of many a football pundit, that perhaps because the Saints were up so much during the year, their defense could take more chances, play downhill, and thats why they had the success they did. Maybe so, but if Arizona plays defense like they did last sunday against a better offense, I don't think it will matter. I like New Orleans.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts 8:00 Saturday CBS
Apparently, the New England Patriots are the new "Sick man of Europe". 'They rolled over and died last sunday', 'they should've kept at least one veteran on that defense among the departures of Vrabel, Bruschi, Harrison and Seymour', 'Tom Brady just didn't look right'. Maybe these are all true, but give John Harbaugh and the Ravens some credit. They've done something nobody else has ever done: They were the first ever team to defeat the Patriots in their first playoff game under Belichick and Brady.
A couple of weeks ago, I wondered to myself as the Ravens were struggling to get past the Oakland Raider and clinch the playoff berth if maybe the Ravens aren't as good as they think they are. Last week, I didn't see the team thats tripped over itself for much of this season, I saw the team that went into Nashville last year and defeated the 13-3 Tennessee Titans.
One thing I'm sure of however, is that this years Indianapolis Colts are better than last year's Tennessee Titans. Not by alot, but it is a more daunting task for the Ravens this year to go into the dome in Indy and win than it was to go to Nashville last year and win.
If theres something Baltimore can rally around, its the fact that Peyton Manning is 0-3 when his Colts have a first round bye. Think about that, Peyton Manning has wasted three great years from the Colts by not even winning one playoff game. 'Course, theres that whole resting starters controversy the Colts have to answer to as well. And then theres the fact that the last playoff game we saw the Colts in at home, they got thoroughly whipped by the Chargers minus Rivers, LT and Antonio Gates, plus plenty of generous calls from the refs, and the Colts still couldn't pull the game out in the end.
Just thinking about it, this may be the most important game in Manning's career since the Super Bowl. With that, I still like Indy, by a hair, if that much.

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 Sunday FOX

Forget Romo, forget Favre, forget Witten. Virtually every one on one matchup is a wash for these two teams, except for one, actually two. How about the Cowboys Outside linebacking pair of Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer going against the Vikings tackles of Bryant Mckinnie on the left side and Phil Loadholt on the right side.
Both Mckinnie and Loadholt are big and powerful human beings, and sometimes they sacrifice technique for power. I asked my buddy, a former college football lineman to take a look at Phil Loadholt when he was at Oklahoma at last year. One thing stood out to him: He's powerful, but he relies on his upper body too much, and doesn't fully utilize his entire body. I'm sure Loadholt will face both Ware and Spencer at times on sunday, and if he hasn't corrected some of his technique problems, he'll have a very long day. As for McKinnie, his play has been so poor the last couple of weeks, I'll be the first one to call Bryant Mckinnie out as somebody who made the Pro Bowl on reputation alone.
To me the discrepancy in talent between Spencer and Ware against Mckinnie and Loadholt is too hard for me to overlook. I like Dallas.

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers 4:30 Sunday CBS
Last year, during the Baltimore Ravens playoff run, I couldn't get over just how well Safety Jim Leonhard was playing. He seemed to know where every play was going, and he used his above average speed to make those plays. All the while, being the steady, reliable player that allowed Ed Reed to freelance, and be, well, Ed Reed. Well, when his defensive coordinator in Baltimore, Rex Ryan, became the head coach of the New York Jets, one of the free agents Ryan insisted the Jets open their wallets for was Leonhard. So far the move has paid off, the Jets had the best defense in football, and CB's Darelle Revis and Lito Shephard, and Safeties Kerry Rhoades and Jim Leonhard make up one of the best secondaries in the league.
I don't know how, I don't know where, I don't know when, but Jim Leonhard will make a big impactful play during this football game.
Now that I got that out of my system, Norv Turner has won three playoff games in the two previous seasons as head coach of the Chargers. I expect after sunday, for that number to jump to four playoff wins the past three seasons. Even with a spirited effort from the Jets defense, I expect the Chargers to still put up points that the run-heavy Jets offense won't be able to much. I like the Chargers, and probably like them to come out of the AFC.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day Predictions and Thoughts

-Prediction: The Falcons will finish 9-7 and for the first time in franchise history have a winning record in consecutive years. Regardless, the team needs to get more talented and in a hurry.
-Thought: I hope I'm not the only one who finds it just a little sad that Tony Gonzalez, perhaps the greatest Tight End in NFL history, so far in his career has played in a grand total of......THREE playoff games with zero playoff wins. With the elimination of the Falcons from playoff contention last week, he'll be shut out once again this year.
-Prediction: Regardless of how much Panthers QB Matt Moore can take advantage of the Giants injury depleted secondary, the 'finally playing up to their potential now that it doesn't matter' Carolina Panthers will defeat the New York Giants and strike a major blow to their playoff chances this Sunday.
-Thought: It's looking more and more likely that the New York Giants will face a Minnesota Vikings team next week that actually will have something to play for in week seventeen. The Vikings stumbles these last few weeks have allowed the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinal's to get in the race for the NFC's second bye likely forcing the Vikings to play their starters the entire game when the Giants come to Minny. Perhaps even with the second by sowed up by game time and nothing to play for, Coach Brad Childress may still elect to play his starters, not wanting to see his guys not playing until the divisional round. The Giants are the NFC wild card contending team that most need to win their final two games to get in, and right now they're the NFC wild card contending team with the toughest final two games.
-Prediction: A 9-7 team will make the playoffs in the AFC. Not bold enough? I'll even go one further: one of the two AFC Wild Card representatives will not be one of the two teams currently slotted in the AFC's two wild card slots. Yes, that means the either the Broncos or Ravens will not be extending their season into the playoffs.
-Thought: Just because these guys play on some seriously bad teams doesn't mean they shouldn't be recognized. Yes, I'm looking at you Eric Wright, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Aqib Talib, Jamaal Charles, Joe Thomas, Jerome Harrison and Jamar Williams.
-Prediction: Interim Bills Coach Perry Fewell, who's black, won't just be a rquisite Rooney Rule interview on the coaching circuit this January. He deserves to get some legitimate looks at being a head coach in this league. In a season were the Buffalo Bills have been crippled by injuries, the team, or whats left of it, have played with nothing but passion under Fewell.
-Thought: Nick Barnett is one of the biggest reasons for the Packers turnaround on defense this year. He'll make a couple eye popping plays per game while also playing about as good a pass defense as any inside linebacker in this league. If he wasn't just a role player the first few games of the season as the team was trying to slowly adjust him back to meaningful football, he'd be a legitimate all-pro candidate.
-Prediction: Wade Phillips will indeed be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys by the time training camp opens next July. It'll just remain to be seen if Wade Phillips can shake his reputation of being a poor coach in the playoffs. Currently, Wade has the same number of playoff wins as the number of playoff wins the Cowboys have since 1997: Zero.
-Thought: If the NFL is serious about broadcasting NFL games on the NFL Network, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to give the broadcast a slightly larger budget. This is the fourth year for these games and we've seen virtually no improvement in the game production value.
-Thought: Yeah, I know it's two straight, but...... Well, there are lot of things currently wrong with the Notre Dame football team. One thing thats not wrong is their television coverage. While it's debatable whether you think it's right that one team gets national coverage on a major network, I think the broadcast team of Tom Hammond and Pat Haden is actually pretty good. You'll hear no complaining from me if NBC decides to use that team for the early game of their Wild Card Weekend coverage.