Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And the Winner Is...

The Courtney Gains (aka Hans Klopek from the movie "The Burbs") look alike contest:
I've narrowed it down to Kyle Orton and Koy Detmer. Right now I'm leaning towards Koy Detmer. Orton's face doesn't give me the same "I've been eating rats for 5 years" look that Detmer's does. Koy is definitely the creepier of the two (ranks just below Bill Belichick on the closet serial killer scale) and honestly, if you can't eat for at least 15 minutes after viewing his photo then that wraps it up doesn't it? Do we need to wait for Tagliabue to rule on this or can we just go ahead and hand out the hardware?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Can the Colt's be beat?

I thought the Steelers actually played ok on defense. They disguised their blitzes pretty well and James may have had over 100 yards but he wasn't dominant. Unfortunately for the AFC, playing ok defense against the Colts still gets you a 19 point ass kicking. Just like Madden pointed out when Steeler corners bit early on play action passes, you should never worry about a running back when Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison are running by you. Yeah the Colts can run the ball fairly well, but if I was an opposing coach I'd still stack the secondary and hope to contain James. It at least makes it a slower game. If the Colts get beat this season or in the playoffs it will be for 3 reasons:

1. The opposing team doesn't turn the ball over. You can't give these guys any extra series on offense.

2. The opposing team causes the Colts to turn the ball over at key times. If you can get Manning feeling antsy, he might force the ball. It hasn't happened much this season but occasionally he just can't help himself. He may say he is happy handing the ball off but every part of him wants to throw the ball downfield. If somehow a limited number of lineman and linebackers can either pressure Manning or stop James then he will be forced to throw into a crowded secondary. The other part of this is getting lucky and causing a fumble or two. Remember when James fumbled near the goal line a couple of years ago against the Patriots? That kind of break will be needed.

3. The opposing team keeps the Colt's under 30 points. You’re not going to win a high scoring game with these guys as the Bengals already have found out. Run the ball effectively and control the clock. And oh yeah, you have to have a couple of scores yourself.

Nobody has done all of these things this season and I believe you have to do all 3 (a perfect game) to beat the Colts. It goes without saying, if Manning is not playing either due to injury or sitting to avoid that possibility , then all bets are off. They become an ordinary team.

Monday, November 28, 2005

NFL Thoughts: Week 12


I almost turned this game off at halftime. I couldn't take it anymore. My Rams were playing their usual defense (none) and some bad breaks were going their way (did you see backup QB Jaime Martin's glazed eyes?). I kept the game on and lucky for me it became a Ram classic. Can I say that about a Texan game? Part of me still thinks the Rams can make the playoffs, so in my warped reality even a victory over Houston qualifies as a classic.

--So Fitzpatrick (Harvard guy...I'm not sure how I feel about that) comes in and proceeds to ---make some pretty good throws and some plays with his legs (offensive linemen don't know where the hell he is when he does that..they've never seen it before). Bruce and Holt become his go-to guys and he hit them in stride many times. My favorite receiver Kevin Curtis is not even getting a sniff of a ball...but considering this is a rookie and Curtis is playing slot in this game which makes him the 3rd read on most plays, I'll shut up. Down 10 with less than 30 seconds to go, Bruce catches a 4th down and 6 - 30 yard TD catch that silences the Texan crowd. Meanwhile I'm going nuts and my wife peeks in to give me one of those "you know your a total retard right?" looks. - Now even though Fitzpatrick played out of his mind, my game ball goes to Jeff Wilkins for kicking the perfect onside kick (a rarity) that was recovered by Holt (update: I've now wet my pants and I don't care). You know the ensuing field goal is going to go in and I'm pretty sure even though overtime hasn't been played yet, the Texan fans know they're screwed. In OT Fitzpatrick gets the ball to Curtis (finally) on a short WR screen and Curtis makes a nice move to leave a Texan safety (and jockstrap) as well as the rest of their defense in the dust (remember this was the guy that's not that fast according to offensive genius Neil O'Donnell). Game over. I now give thanks for the hospitality of Houston. My wife comes in, sees me passed out, proceeds to give me mouth to mouth resuscitation...I tell her I'm not in the mood and spaz out again. It's been a long season as a Ram fan and will most likely be longer still, so dammit I deserve this.

-Now on to the rest of the league's slightly less intriguing games.


Wow. This is a different year for Seattle. Never mind that the Giant's kicker gift-wrapped this sucker for them by missing 2 makeable (that 54 yarder was a bit out of range, so I won't count that one) field goals to win the game. These are the kind of breaks that never used to fall the Seahawks way. Now some are saying this didn't prove much for Seattle because they really should have lost the game. But I say, are you kidding? They have got some of what the Pats had the last couple of years. Some clutch play when it counts and some pretty lucky breaks. Don't knock luck, I can't remember too many championship teams that didn't dip into the charmed well a few times.
-one last note: did you see the replay of Shockey on the sideline doing the "you know it" "you know it" dance as Feely misses one of the game winners, only to realize in mid-dance that something just went horribly wrong. He turns towards the field with that "what the #$*%" look. Kodak moment. Someone needs to get this footage for him as a stocking stuffer.
  • The Sports Pulse
  • or
  • NFL Spam
  • has a great clip of this you should check out if you haven't seen it.


    I now watch the Bengals because I love to see an explosive offense. How much do these guys remind you of Indy last year(including the defense)? I'm not on the bandwagon but I sure like to trot alongside and watch the fun.


    Can the Bears win the NFC in January with their offense? It's a valid question. After what the Bears defense did on Sunday, can Chris Simms sleep at daddy's house tonight? Equally valid.


    I don't know what I'm more surprised with: the fact that both Brooks and Bollinger had passer ratings over 100 for this game or that I actually watched part of it. It's a toss up.

    -Curtis Martin reached 14,000 rushing yards for his career in this game. Though he's never got the pub, he's a hall of famer and the stats will speak for him when it's time.

    - New Orleans savior Aaron Brooks on the win: "We're proud of getting a victory...breaking a six-game losing streak is the best feeling this team can have at this point." -- No kidding. This has to be one of the most uninspiring post-game quotes I've ever read.


    I didn't catch any of this game. Only saw the highlights and was stunned to see Brady overthrowing guys and getting intercepted (4 times!). Bad games for Brady are like eclipses, they happen every so often and you better get a good look while you can.


    Brees and Gates played their worst games of the year and the Skins still can't beat the Chargers. Tomlinson had a little something to do with that. That and the fact that the Redskins suck.


    So Carolina was everybody's hot pick a couple of weeks ago for the Superbowl. If the trendy thing in the NFC is going to be tough defense and low scoring games, then stop the bus, I want to get off.


    Nothing. I've got nothing.


    Ditto. Wait...nope..nada.

    Favre played badly but so did many other Packers. It's time for Green Bay to face reality. They haven't hung on to any free agents the past few years, they haven't drafted well, and Mike Sherman isn't going to be given football genius status anytime soon. Favre isn't a pro-bowler this year but he's not the reason this team is in the running for Reggie Bush.


    -I've watched the Jag's Garrard before and been impressed with him as a backup. Can he do it again and for more than a couple of games? Leftwich might be out a while so if Garrard falters and the Jags lose any of their creampuff games left (minus Indy of course) then maybe the Chargers can sneak up on them for the Wild Card spot. Thinking about Arizona's game last week with the Rams where Bulger went down, I'm starting to think the Cardinals defensive coordinator is telling his players, "you know what guys, we suck ,so just go out and kill their QB. Why should we be the only ones that don't trust our quarterback?"

    Frerotte had a passer rating above 90 for this game. Nick and Jessica have broken up. What the hell is happening? Oh wait...Collins still sucks. Whew! I'm not crazy. ---I still don't recognize Ricky Williams on the highlights. He looks as skinny as Tiki Barber. I thought getting off weed was supposed to increase your appetite.

    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    College Football Thoughts for Nov 26th

    -LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, & Texas all won but none of them looked great doing it. Still at this time of year I'm not sure any team should feel bad about a win, no matter how ugly. It's tough to make it through the season without some hiccups. Notre Dame's close call though gives a little more ammunition to Oregon supporters like me who think money shouldn't rule the decision on major bowl games.....yes I still believe in Santa Claus, why do you ask?

    -Nevada is not a bad team (8-3) but Fresno State's run defense is
    as soft as my favorite quilt (I love that thing!). I'm guessing Nevada has similar feelings of affection for Fresno's "D" as they dashed their way through holes the size of Rhode Island (261 rushing yards given up). Suddenly Reggie Bush's near 300 yards against the Bulldogs, while still incredible, isn't as superhuman as it seemed.

    -I know that Florida lost some key games this year but they beat
    Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida State. Now, none were as good as pre-season hype led us to believe, but they are hated rivals. Doesn't that buy Urban Meyer at least a year before Gator fans torch his house and sell his wife and kids on e-bay?

    -Oklahoma and Nebraska fans can also call off the dogs as both teams got badly needed aesthetic victories. Neither was awful this year, but a 6 win regular season just wouldn't have cut it for these former Big 12 powerhouses. Prior to the Callahan experience, wasn't Frank Solich run out of Nebraska for eking out 9 wins? The nerve of that guy!

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

    Turkey & Football

    Thanksgiving is without question my favorite holiday. Turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, & 8 hours of football. What's not to love? ---The look on my wife's face after the start of the Broncos game might qualify.

    - The Broncos have been getting a lot of love in the press lately. Even though I haven't seen many of their games this year I admit I wondered if today would be a rout. So either the Cowboys are better that I thought, or the Broncos are worse than I thought. Also, If I'm signed by the Broncos tomorrow what are the odds of me running for 100 yards next week? My 40 time is a bit off, but I'm coachable.

    - I missed the name of the hyperventilating Falcon coach with the sideburns. Who is he and more importantly is he available to sing at a wedding next week? ---Seriously though, the Falcons have to feel good about dominating the Lions. Dunn was a stud again (116 yards without playing the 4th quarter), Vick was pretty good, and the defense made Garcia and Harrington look like....well...themselves. It was the Lions, so hopefully they didn't pop open the bubbly to go with their turkey. They still have some work to do if they want to make the playoffs.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    NFL Thoughts: Week 11

    I just want to again say how much I love the technology of Tivo. I can watch four full games in the time it would take to watch one. It's a marriage saver. Some thoughts then on some games I watched and some that I just caught highlights of:

    The Rams were lit up by the Cardinals. Their defense is so bad it's painful to watch. I do think the Rams would have hung with the Cards had Bulger not gone down (again). He was having a nice game and when he got hurt every Ram fan watching as well as every Ram player (including backup QB Jamie Martin) thought to themselves, "oh sh--, we're screwed".
    Warner had a good day, which must have felt nice against St. Louis. Don't get used to it Arizona fans. I'll always be a fan of his because of what he did as a Ram but the thumb injuries and and some bad habits have made Kurt into one of the most unreliable starters out there.

    - Who's brilliant idea was it to sign former Super Bowl loser Neil O'Donnell (Yes Neil was the loser---the Steelers did not lose that game to the Cowboys) on as color commentary dude ? Nobody did a test run with this guy before he was hired? Unbelievable. As I'm watching the Ram game, I listen to the two broadcasters and think to myself, "who's the guy that sounds like he's as intelligent as Anna Nicole Smith? " When I find out it's O'Donnell, I thought, "oh ok, that makes sense". Absolutely no real analysis of anything. Just observations that my 3 year old could make and some flat out stupid and ignorant commentary. Commenting about Ram wide-out Kevin Curtis (9 receptions, 98 yards) after he made a couple of catches, Neil quipped, "he's not the fastest of guys", then made the point that he was much like former Ram "possession" receiver, Ricky Proehl. He made this point a few times in the game, still telling us that Curtis wasn't very fast but had great hands. If O'Donnell had done any homework for this game or watched any Ram games before this, he would know that Curtis is one of the faster guys on the entire Ram team and one of the fastest wideouts in the league. My memo to Neil: Hey dumb ass, just because you're a slow white guy, that doesn't mean Curtis is too. --If O'Donnell does any Jacksonville Jaguar games in the future, he'll be sure to tell us how Byron Leftwich is not a very good pocket passer but he's one of the better running QBs in the league. Pure stupidity and ignorance really bug me.
    ok then. moving on.

    Being a Ram fan, I could make some kind of comment about Seattle almost losing to San Fran. But then I would have to point out that the 49ers played other teams pretty tough as well and in fact beat the Rams. I don't need to be that honest with myself.

    I think Vick is playing pretty well but (and I apologize for sounding like a broken record here) the way he holds the ball (away from his body and many times down near his hip)while in the pocket (and sometimes out of it) leads to a lot of fumbles. Sometimes it doesn't hurt them, but against the Bucs it did.

    - Carnell Williams seems to have gotten his legs back this week. It will take a lot of stress off Simms if that continues. They've got a brutal schedule left though with home games against Chicago and Atlanta and road games against New England and Carolina. You'd like to think that the two Saints games they have left would be gimmees but New Orleans has been playing Tampa pretty tough the last few years.

    Two things on the Dolphins. 1. Their running backs are pretty decent. 2. Their quarterbacks--not so much. - They were just shut out by the Browns. Pass the Maloxx Nick.

    I really like the Jaguars defense. They make the plays when it really counts. Nice game for Leftwich. He's tough, doesn't make a lot of stupid throws, and plays pretty well in the clutch. The Jags look like a lock for a wild card spot.

    Harrington wasn't at his worst or his best. Same with Bledsoe. I'm glad I didn't watch this thing.

    The Pats may have a few scares like this or even a loss or two before the season ends . But as long as Brady stays healthy, they'll be ready to make some noise once the playoffs start.

    Lamont Jordan wanted the ball more. He's getting it (27 carries) but not doing much with it as this game proved (52 yards, 1.9 avg.).
    - The Skins bubble is bursting. I think they're done as far as the playoffs go but they could still be a spoiler for someone else's hopes.

    I was impressed with the Bengals offense after watching this game. Palmer is looking good but I want to see him have a few more games like this against good teams before I am a total believer. His stats are awesome though. It's not the Bengals fault that their schedule is full of creampuffs. Next year it will be tougher and we'll get a better idea of really how good these guys are.
    -the Colts just keep cruising. I never thought I'd endorse anything resembling "Marty" ball but the Colts would have been better off getting a little more conservative at the end of each half. They try to drive with only a minute left and that leads to the interception and score for the Bengals in the first half. They had a two touchdown lead and suddenly it's only a one score game. Then at the end of the game they are again throwing on all 3 downs when it would have been better to at least run on 2nd down and get some time ran off the clock. As well as the Bengals played it shouldn't have been as close as it was.

    I wonder if Denver apologized before the game to the Jets for what was about to occur.

    -If your car situation at home was like the Jets quarterback situation it would go something like this:
    Your (insert favorite kind of car here) that you thought was going to be so great turned out to not be very durable and in fact with all it's engine problems you are going to have to reluctantly junk it. Then your backup car is totaled in a parking lot but your not totally bummed because you were never very excited about driving it anyway. At the salvage yard you see a car that you used to have a few years back. It gave you some good memories and you thought, "what the hell, it still runs and maybe it could get me from work and back." After trying it out again you soon realize that it's breaking down also and really wasn't as good as you remembered. There was a reason it was sitting in the salvage yard.
    Your getting a bit desperate now and the little scooter you have in the back of your garage is not going to be too fun in the winter. But what else are you going to do? So you pull it out only to find that it goes about 5 miles per hour, has wobbly steering and can't take the potholes. It's soon out of action as well.
    What's left? Well.....Your daughter's bike with training wheels and streamers coming out of the handlebars is going to be awkward and humiliating to ride and you have to hope your fat ass doesn't pop the tires. You use gas money to buy some lottery tickets hoping to hit the big one so you can ride in style again someday. Ladies and Gentlemen: your 2005 NY Jets.

    I'm sure Larry Johnson never wanted to see Priest Holmes injured but I'll bet he's not wasting any time worrying about it. LJ is getting all the carries now and his 211 yards against the Texans solidified his tenure as K.C's number 1 from now on.

    Drew Brees is making any management decision that might move him out of San Diego after this season very unpopular with the Charger faithful. It will be interesting to see if he can play as well if Gates isn't back from injury soon. If he plays this way the rest of the way, I say they find a way to keep him, and Rivers is the one packing his bags.

    Manning and Barber got back on track. The only question is which questionable team, the Giants or the Cowboys will falter down the stretch? Dallas' schedule looks slightly tougher and the law of averages with Drew Bledsoe may catch up to them. On the other hand I don't think the Giants defense is as good as the Cowboys.
    -Stick a fork in the Eagles. They're done.

    I think the Steelers have proved my point that a QB can be the difference between being a good team and being an average team. In case you were wondering, Tommy Maddox makes the Steelers an average team. -I'm surprised Randle El didn't get the nod at halftime. What I'm really surprised with is that Maddox once had his own cereal named after him. I'm pretty sure if kids in Pittsburgh tried this stuff now, they would be saying, "hey mom, these Tommy Gun Flakes suck."

    Seeing this cereal box got me thinking though. What other football players have had their own morning snack named after them? A quick look revealed an odd assortment of players who all have something in common: They aren't the superstars of the league (those guys get the cover of Wheaties) but they are players who have or had a loyal following and are known for being tough and/or scrappy. I guess come morning, you don't want to bite into a spoonful of pansy. Anyway, here's a sampling:

    - Mike "Alstott's A-Train Express"- seems like a better name for a laxative than a cereal.

    -Doug Flutie's "Flutie Flakes". The name is simple and catchy. Keeping them on the spoon is another matter. (They're slippery little buggers).

    -Ed McCafferty's honey nut toasted oats called, "Ed's Endzone". Check inside the box, you may have won dinner with John Elway. Call Ed (not John) for details.

    -Wayne Chrebet's "Chrebet Crunch". Odd foreshadowing of things to come. And just a note on Chrebet's career if he is done for good---I thought this guy was one of the best recievers to ever play in the city of NY.

    I'm trying to decide which is more frightening, Kyle Orton's beard or the Bears' defense. It's the beard, but not by much. The defensive lineman had 8 sacks in this game. That's unreal. Their defense is so good that they are winning games in spite of their offense. Reminds me of the Ravens a few years back. Can the Rams have Lovie Smith back yet?

    How many times have we seen that look on Favre's face this year? You know, the one he has at the end of the game and the Pack are going down in flames. Yeah the same one he had against the Vikings as another field goal sails through the uprights and hands Green Bay another heartbreaking loss. He gives that little shake of his head and blank stare of disbelief. It's hard to watch. I'm a sucker like many, who want Favre to do well. I used to hate the Pack when they were winning in the mid 90's. As I watched Favre a little more and began to appreciate him with his humor, enthusiasm for the game, laid back style, and gunslinger mentality, he began to grow on me until I was transformed from a Packer hater into a casual fan. I know the media and many others (including me) give him a free pass when he should be roasted just like other QBs that have bad games or bad seasons. But it's because he's a good guy and people can relate to him more than they can guys like T.O. and Bill Romanowski (jerks). Most people genuinely like Favre and when you get to a Hall of Fame level and are likeable many are going to be hesitant to look for flaws. I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's human nature. His praise to criticism ratio is definitely a bit skewed. You know what? I'm not losing sleep over it.

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    College Football Thoughts for Nov 19th

    First of all I had to work on Saturday and didn't get home until around 8 pm (MST). No college football for me. I missed Rivalry
    Saturday! Obviously being tired and pissed, the only logical thing to do was sit down and watch a tivo-ed episode of "Ghost Whisperer" with my wife (don't ask). I totally forgot that USC was playing Fresno St at this same time and it was only by randomly flipping channels that I came upon the last part of the game. After seeing the score and getting an update on Reggie Bush's stats I proceeded to whack myself upside the head with a crowbar. - Holy Dick Cheney, did Bush have himself a game or what?! I'm not a big Trojan fan but I do like to watch exciting players. I think Bush qualifies. 513 total yards. 294 yards rushing.

    Other Thoughts:

    -USC still has to play a potent offense against UCLA and most likely Texas. They better hope Leinart, Bush, or White come up with their usual magic because that defense has not looked very good at times. - Put your tongue back in your mouth Vince Young. It's not polite to drool.

    -I'm somewhat of a Texas Tech fan but even I can admit that I don't think that TD was valid that won it for the Red Raiders against Oklahoma. It sure looked like he was down before he got that ball across the goal line.

    -Penn St. has to be the biggest surprise for me this year. They are flat out good and Robinson their QB is a star. I still think Joe Paterno ought to retire though. Why not go out in a blaze of glory? Or at least before we need to get him Hubble telescope lenses for those glasses.

    -I think Oregon should be ranked ahead of both Notre Dame and Ohio St. There, I said it. Go Ducks. Any team that wears that color scheme should be given the benefit of the doubt.

    -BYU and Utah played a pretty exciting game in the big rivalry matchup for my state. At least that's what I've heard. Deep breath. ok moving on.....Despite the loss, BYU is moving in the right direction. They are bowl eligible, which is step forward after 3 years of losing - The Utes 6 wins are a far cry from last year's undefeated season but they are a young team (QB was only 18) and maybe next year they will win some of the tight ones they couldn't close this year.

    -Why does it seem that every Big Ten game is played for some kind of goofy trophy like a bucket, pig, axe, or the fossilized head of Woody Hayes? And do coaches actually use these things as extra motivation? Big Ten Championships are nice. But if you've got yourself a nice piece of pork in the trophy case then you've got something special.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    NFL Disappointments and Surprises: Receivers

    To continue the theme of the last couple of posts I'll move on to disappointments and surprises among the receiving corps. There are many guys at Wide Receiver that haven’t had the type of season so far that they or their teams have expected. This is a tough position to label because there is so much stuff that relates to the wide-out’s performance that is out of their control. The most obvious being whether or not you have a QB that can get you the ball or a coach that is willing to throw it. And really, all hell could break loose in the next few games for some of these guys and they could suddenly look very productive.

    - Randy Moss’s 629 yards aren’t bad but he’s only caught 39 balls. So far, this deal hasn’t been all it was cracked up to be for the Raiders or the Vikings. I’m wondering though, does Moss end meetings with Al Davis with the words, “can you dig it baby”? And even more important, does Al respond with, “you bet your ass I can dig it!” ?

    -Some might include Muhsin Muhammed on this list after his breakout year in 04. But really his season hasn’t been that disappointing relative to expectations. Come on, he signed with the Bears! Did anyone really expect him to go to the Pro-Bowl this year? The Bears aren’t a bad team but they are not going to light up anyone through the air. The only thing I wonder is if he convinced himself he was going to change the Bear’s offensive approach by showing up or if he was honest with himself and realized that the only numbers that were important to him were the ones in his bank account? I’m guessing it was the latter. I’m not out to brand him a bad guy. It's just that its a little ridiculous that he would go seemingly for more money when reports are that the Panthers offer and the Bears offer weren’t significantly different. Whatever the amounts, the Bears offered more. --At any rate, I don't think he can make the claim he was leaving to play for a winner. The Panthers were a decent team and he had no idea if the Bears were going to be. --Ok then. I’m done.

    - Eric Moulds and Lee Evans both are under 400 yards for the season. Disappointing because both of these guys have great hands and are good receivers. Maybe Losman has it figured out now and the passing game will improve. Maybe my stunning good looks will continue to improve with age. These are things that we just don’t have answers for at this time.

    -For various reasons Joe Horn (I’m sorry about Aaron Brooks Joe, I really am), Issac Bruce (injuries) and Michael Clayton (?) have not put up the numbers this year that we were expecting. They plan to personally apologize to fantasy owners worldwide.

    - But my pick for most disappointing receiver is a three way Detroit tie. Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, and Roy Williams (although Roy’s last game was a real teaser) were supposed to be a three headed monster this year. Instead they have joined their QB’s in a game of “let’s see how fast we can get Mooch fired”. It’s fun, everyone’s playing, and there’s no assembly required. Be warned though, Matt Millen gets pissed when he doesn’t get to go first. -- None of these guys have over 310 yards receiving and the Detroit press has been all over their asses this season. Figuratively speaking of course. Because otherwise that’s not a pretty picture.

    How about pleasant surprises at the Receiver position?

    -Although Plaxico Burress has always been seen as talented…and tall.. you have to be a little surprised at his immediate success in NY (48 catches, 706 yards). His numbers already are not too far off his stats for the past couple of years with the Steelers.

    -Joey Galloway (51 grabs, 862 yards) has been reborn in Tampa and looks like the guy who put two 1000 yard seasons back to back in 97 & 98. Where’d he go anyway? He’s like the guy in the horror flicks that goes out for a smoke and only comes back after he’s been possessed by a crazed spirit. So who’s possessing Joey now? Anyway, horror flick character, “Chucky” Gruden doesn’t care as long as he keeps it up.

    - Dallas’ Terry Glenn is another guy who has found resurgence with a new (and old) coach. He’s got 713 yards and has been a favorite of Bledsoe’s on the deep routes. He just has to keep reminding Drew that he' the guy in the white uniform.

    -And to plug a Ram guy here (and an alum of both my alma maters, Snow College and Utah State), I’ll mention St. Louis wide receiver, Kevin Curtis. He got some press that I noticed (yes I'm biased and you can check out a couple of good articles on him here and here ) coming into the season because of his breakout performance in the playoffs last year (where he outplayed both Holt and Bruce against the Seahawks and Falcons), but still he’s not a guy many people have heard of. For a nobody, he’s got an impressive 587 yards on 40 catches.

    -And finally although, they were listed in my mid-season report as two of the best receivers of the season so far, I think you have to say they are also the two most surprising receivers of the year. I'm talking of course about Santana Moss of the Redskins and Steve Smith of the Panthers. Their stats are almost identical (Smith has 58 catches & 937 yards while Moss has 51 catches & 935 yards) I don’t think anybody at the beginning of the season had these guys pegged as being 1 & 2 in the receiving stats this late into the season. They’ve been huge for little guys.

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    NFL Surprises: Running Backs

    Ok, following up on my previous post of the most disappointing running backs so far this season I thought I'd throw out a few surprises at tailback.

    First, anybody that has followed football for the past few years can't be surprised at what Shawn Alexander, Edgerrin James, Ladainian Tomlinson, and Tiki Barber are doing. Even Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns, Willis McGahee, and Rudi Johnson's solid but not spectacular seasons are not too surprising because you knew they were going to get the carries.

    On the other hand:

    - Warrick Dunn may have surprised some with his yardage (896) and yards-per carry average (5.1) this season, but I've liked this guy for a long time and felt he was underrated by many.

    - Although you knew the Bears were going to run the ball, Thomas Jones has shown me some moves that I didn't know he had. Before he got hurt he had almost 800 yards and a 4.5 yard-per carry average. I'm wondering what they do next year with Benson ready for more playing time. Do they trade Jones, or try the platoon system like some teams employ? This guy is too good to sit.

    -There was some buzz about Larry Johnson before the season began but I am surprised at how he has taken hold of the position for K.C. Even if Holmes doesn't get hurt, I think Johnson gets more carries to end the year. He's not the receiver that Holmes is but he's averaging over 5 yards a carry. Plus, I'm pretty sure if LJ had not gotten sufficient touches this season, he would have put Vermeil's family jewels in a vicegrip and really given him something to cry about.

    -I know the Broncos run the ball well with just about anyone in the backfield but I really didn't know which one of their backs would step up this year. I also didn't figure on two guys doing as well as they have. Usually it's one guy on the team that grabs the mantle for the season. Mike Anderson's done it before so I'm not shocked with his solid season (669 yards, 4.5 yard average) but Tatem Bell has shown some serious speed to the outside and a big play ability. With some of the long ones he has busted out, his average rush per carry is 6.3! With his 606 yards rushing he has definitely impressed me. The only question I have is, when he's on the sideline and Shannahan is talking to him does he sit there and think, "damn!, those bug eyes are really freaking me out!" ? Just a thought.

    Is it possible to be surprised and disappointed in the same season with a back? That's the case for me with Carnell (Cadillac) Williams of Tampa Bay. I think if he can get healthy we'll see some flashes of that early season brillance. I'm not surprised Cadillac's ex-Auburn teamate Ronnie Brown is doing well. After all he did go # 2 overall in the draft. There must have been a reason for that. Could it have been that he's fast, big, and very coachable. yeah that.

    Steven Jackson's success for the Rams has not been surprising to me but the number of times he's been given the ball (729 yards, 155 carries) has. What I mean by this is that I expected Marshall Faulk to get at least of third of the carries in a game. That hasn't happened despite signs that Faulk is looking very fast this year. Faulk's window for padding those rushing stats is closing (32 years old) and I think the team needs his abilities. I'm bitter about this and don't want to talk about it. Let's move on.

    -Hands down the biggest surprise for me this year so far at running back has been "Fast" Willie Parker of Pittsburgh. I'm not a big Steeler fan but I'm not even sure they knew who this guy was before the year began. I had never heard of him. He's cooled a bit from his fast start and his playing time has been cut into by Bettis (rightly so) but somebody please tell me they knew he would have 615 yards at this point (4.7 avg.) in the season. I want stocks in whatever your buying.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    NFL disappointments: Running Backs

    Pardon me for my lists, but I was thinking the other day about a few guys who I had expected to have nice seasons this year and for whatever the reason, haven't come through so far. Conversely, I wondered who have been the biggest surprises?
    Now I have limited my list to the guys I follow the most, offensive skill position players (and believe it or not I haven't yet dabbled in fantasy football. so sue me). Sorry, I'm not going to get into defensive players. They are harder to analyze unless you really know what your talking about and again, I am a Ram fan so what the hell do I know about defense?
    So anyway, relative to expectations and results who has been this season's biggest disappointments and surprises at the skill positions?

    First my take on the biggest disappointment to date at the running back position: I think there are few candidates for this.

    - Carolina has played well this season and their dual threat of Foster and Stephen Davis have been adequate, but Foster's been banged up and only carried the ball 75 times for less than 300 yards and Davis is averaging only 3 yards a carry with just under 500 yards. Now Davis does have 12 touchdowns but the only scoring that has really caught my attention was done by the Panther cheerleaders.

    - Ahman Green's season has been a downer, complete with a season ending injury and Priest Holmes wasn't even the best back on his own team before he got hurt.

    - Or how about the Jet's Curtis Martin who after his 1697 yard performance last year gave hope to the over 31 club. He's 32 years old now and his 3.4 yard per carry average is looking geriatric this year. I'm 33 and it kills me to think that if I was a running back in the NFL (work with me here) my career would essentially be over. It's incredible how 32 and older is seen as ancient for RB's in the NFL. I guess the pounding they take over 10 years in the league really does wear them down. To be fair to Martin, his line sucks.

    - Another guy having a down year is Corey Dillon. He also has been a bit gimpy and his 441 yards and 3.5 yards-per carry mirrors the Pats season so far: very average. It's causing Belichik to look more like your friendly neighborhood serial killer every day. Keep up the great work Corey!

    - And with the contract he signed Lamont Jordan really should be giving us more than a couple of good games and a 3.8 yard per carry average (after all it was the yard-per carry average last year that got him the contract). He's a big guy, he should carry guys at least 4 yards after he's hit. He's shown signs of coming to life with an increased workload so we'll see how the rest of the season goes.

    - But for me, the award goes to your favorite inmate and mine: Jamal Lewis. Congratulations Jamal, you've just won a compilation cd of Joe Theismann's greatest suck-up comments about you. ----Jamal has a paltry 480 yards and and 3 yard per-carry average. What's that you say? The Ravens can't throw the ball and everybody is loading up on the run? Umm....and that's different from other years how? Yeah Lewis missed training camp and had his mind on other things in the offseason (namely how to keep the only other guy bigger than him from making him his beeatch) but what about all that talk of him really getting his head straight and how he realized how important football was to him? A lot of people were saying if he made a run at the single season rushing mark with an impending prison sentence always on his mind then just think what he could do without that burden. Hey it's contract time though right? Got to be careful. Careful you don't run yourself out of the league.
    --Here's the thing: I'm not a Raven fan even though I lived in Baltimore for about a year, but I do like Lewis. He was fun to watch when he ran over people and occasionally around guys. I remember thinking a couple of years ago, "how do you stop this guy?" Apparently a few strip searches and jumpsuit wardrobe do the trick.

    Coming next: RB surprises

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005


    The Knicks scored 72 points, shot 42% last night against the Jazz, and had 23 turnovers. Sounds like a recipe for losing doesn't it? Not when the Jazz shoot 29% from the field and only score 62 points. Kirilenko's out, Boozer is still out (I'm worried about the toughness of this guy) and Utah couldn't buy a bucket last night. Oh boy.

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Monday Night Ugly

    McNabb looks awful. Even before he threw that very "Bledsoe" like interception he wasn't sharp at all. You have to start to wonder if he should be playing. At what point do you say Mcmahon or Detmer would give you a better shot at winning? Is McNabb at 60% health better than the backups? 50%? If it keeps going this way, we may find out.

    -The Cowboys proved the point that you can win a game and lose credibility in the same night.

    -I guess we'll see how Philly's backups do now. It was announced that McNabb won't play next week.

    NFL Thoughts: Week 10

    Well, that was definitive wasn't it? The Rams needed this game to save their season. I knew it was going to be a bad day when Bulger threw a perfect 1st quarter pass to Holt who was 10 yards from the goal line---he had beaten two defenders---a sure touchdown---and Holt didn't even see the ball until it bounced on the ground.

    -It was ugly defensively for the Rams. Seattle could not be stopped on 3rd down. Hasselbeck made throws at crucial points and Alexander killed them running left all day long. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go break every window in my house.

    By order of Sir Vick, I am not allowed to criticize his quarterbacking today. The Pack didn't make a lot of mistakes and they played pretty good defense all day on Vi....I mean they kept contained.

    Let's see. Patriots need a TD to win with less than 3 minutes to go. I wonder how this one turned out.

    Shannahan vs. Al Davis. One of these days Al is going to send a hit squad to Denver. Either that or he will just show up at Mike's house naked and without his shades on at 3 am. Cardiac arrest doesn't leave a trail.

    --Great game again by the Broncos. They just don't make mistakes on offense or defense. Speaking of making mistakes, I was a little nervous for Collins at the end of this game. After all, a lot of those Oakland fans are wearing sharp pointy objects as part of their game attire. Two words for you Kerry. Police Escort.

    I'm pretty sure Tom Coughlin turned a shade of Minnesota purple by the end of this thing. Really not a great day for NY. These are the teams you need to bust out the whooping stick on... not have that stick shoved down your own throat and pulled out your rectum.

    --I know the Vikes won but it doesn't say much for your team when your only TDs come courtesy of your special teams and defense.

    I watched Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson today and wondered how much we would be talking about this guy if he was on another team. Maybe the Eagles and Texans can work something out in the offseason involving Owens. The focus in Houston would still be on something negative but at least it wouldn't involve their games.

    - Indy looks very efficient. Can they go undefeated? I'm starting to wonder. Tough games ahead. You would think at least one of the contenders they'll play will knock them off.

    I came away with a couple of questions after this game. First of all, which local junior college loaned their uniforms to the Bears for the day?. Second, after a game of insane wind like this one had, do kickers from both teams go to a pub, get wasted out of their minds, and laugh hysterically until bar patrons slap them silly and yell "pull it together man!"?

    -Also, Cedric Benson's injury made me cringe. Good thing Chicago stockpiles running backs. Adrian Peterson really came through for them (120 yards).

    What's up with Trent Green this year? He doesn't look good at all. J.P. Losman outplayed him today and the Bills defense looked really good. I'm pretty sure Vermeil cried after this one.

    First Vermeil last week. Now this. Gruden goes for two instead of tying the game up in the final seconds. I love this call. Now maybe if I'm a Buc fan, I'm chewing my fingernails off before the snap, and if it doesn't work I'm buying "Chucky" dolls and burning them in effigy, but come on-- this call took some testicular fortitude.

    ---Chris Simms played great and can expect papa Phil to drop by the house later to take him out for ice cream.

    -A good game by Portis (144 yards) was wasted by the Skins but still, Washington is a lot of fun to watch this year. I used to tune in to games only to see how many times the camera would pan to Daniel Snyder after a bad play. I think he started hiding because he knew I was watching.

    On the positive side for the Jets they held Steve Smith to 34 yards receiving. On the negative side, Jets QB Brooks Bollinger completed half his passes to Carolina defenders.

    Matt Leinart a Raven? Phillip Rivers? It better be somebody else next year because Kyle Boller isn't the answer for Baltimore.

    -Matt Jones played like the freak he's supposed to be today. He has made a couple of highlight reel catches this year but this was a career day (117 yards) for him. The Jaguars remaining schedule means this team will have a very nice record by the end of the year. If they can continue to score, then even taking down the Colts might be possible.

    Joey Harrington, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions, 66% completion rate. Breathe. That's it. Take a deep breath. We're all going to get through this together. Remember, he was a first round pick. your hyperventilating again...stop. Just stop. He played well today, he really did, and Roy Williams is back, it's going to be just fine. Now all we have to do is figure out whether Joey starts over Jeff Garcia next week. Oh for crying out loud...get an inhaler!

    "Sometimes you don't need anybody. Sometimes you need to use everybody." Tommy Maddox really has a way with words. Uh...Tommy, I'm pretty sure you do need somebody to take the snap. The Steelers had to use Batch, Maddox, and even Randle-El at QB due to Batch injuring his hand in the game. --Kinda crazy.

    --Watching the success of Randle-El and Hines Ward at wide receiver after being converted from college QBs reminded me of the days when Kordell Stewart was called "Slash". Does anybody remember those games he played at WR for Pittsburgh and absolutely destroyed defensive backs? He could have been a great wide-out. He was adamant about playing QB though. I think his career (or lack of one) helped guys like Randle-El, Ward, and the Jaguars Matt Jones realize that yeah, they could probably play QB in the league (and be pretty average) or they could play a position that would really utilize their skills and allow them to be successful. Kordell had a couple of decent years at QB but I would be willing to bet his rookie card that he would have made a difference at wide receiver.

    -Now I'm not saying all athletic QBs need to be converted to different positions. That's the kind of thinking that hopefully doesn't rear its head any more. Now more than ever with the speed in the game of football, an athletic QB can be a huge advantage. I'm just saying that not all guys, athletic or not, are cut out to be Pro QB's (Joey Harrington alert here). The difference is that if you are a great athlete (Matt Jones, Randle El, etc.) you have other options that should be seriously looked at. Ok, I'm now stepping down from the soapbox. Damn thing's too high anyway.