NFL Week Six: The Week in Rebuke

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I can tell you the exact moment that I knew I didn’t have what it took to be an NFL player.

It was January 7, 1995. I was 15, which explains the youthful optimism. The Cleveland Browns were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in a divisional playoff game. I remember this as being one of the most brutal games I’ve ever seen, and as those running backs took those shots, I knew that if someone hit me like that once, I would die on the spot.

Big backs were in vogue then.

The Browns had Earnest Byner, Leroy Hoard and Eric Metcalf as the change of pace back. (The head coach was Bill Belichick, his defensive coordinator was Nick Saban.) On defense they had Pepper Johnson, Carl Banks and Michael Dean Perry. Conversely, the Steelers had Bill Cowher, Dom Capers as the defensive coach, with Dick LeBeau and Marvin Lewis as position coaches. The running backs were Bam Morris and Barry Foster and the defense, good God.

Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland, Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson, Kevin Greene, Brentson Bucknew, Jason Gildon and Carnell Lake. (Why yes, the Steelers did have Tom Modrak and Tom Donahue handling scouting and personnel! How did you know?)

So when the Brown ran the Steelers out of the building this Sunday, I smiled. When both teams are competitive, this is one the great rivalries that the NFL was built on. This is old school football. This is what we needed in a year of reality show drama, scandal, public relations nightmares.

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Its worth noting that Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen got a sack against the Falcons. Allen had the flu, recovered partially and had seven tackles last week. People asked him why he didn’t have a sack yet this year. Aye Carrumba.

Also, don’t look now, but the Chargers are 5-1 and on top of a division that includes the mighty Denver Broncos, except they have one tenth the talent the Broncos have.

I tend to beat dead horses, but when Mike McCoy was offensive coordinator for the Broncos, he customized one offense for Tim Tebow, and a different one for Payton Manning. That’s an incredible job of adjusting your system for your personnel. Suddenly people are talking about Phillip Rivers as an MVP candidate, and Malcolm Floyd is better than he has been in years. This is not a coincidence.

Chargers

Also Kirk Cousins has lost all seven games he’s started the last two years for the Washington Redskins. A few weeks ago, Robert Griffin III was all but dead and buried, and now people are hoping that he will heal like Wolverine.

I’m going to say it here first, Griffin’s contract is up in 2016, but the team option is up a year before that. If you’re RGIII, why would you want to stay in Washington? The line is flawed, the coaching staff has been in turmoil, the fans turned on you the moment someone else showed up, and all you can look forward to is taking a beating in the future. He has a career passer rating of 91.8 and the Washington Post just published an article asking if he was competent enough to be a starter.

If you’re Cam Newton, why would you stay? The Panthers only have him for another year. He lost his receiving corps and they didn’t even talk to him about it, and he lost his line. The general manager invested in running backs only, because apparently he was a fan of San Francisco’s ‘Million Dollar Backfield,’ except they’re all like two hundred years old and no one can stay vertical for more than four yards.

It didn't work then either.

It didn’t work then either.

The same fans that think Johnny Football is ‘passionate’ when he’s snorting coke in the bathroom, or throwing a tantrum onfield, think that Newton lacks poise, when sometimes he looks stern as his team is imploding. They only got him decent quarterback coaching last year, with Ken Dorsey. They shelved the team’s top pass rusher as a public relations move, so now they can’t rush the passer and the Panthers need 30 points a game to win…throwing to Jason Avant. Why would you stay?

That's passion right there. Right up his nose.

That’s passion right there. Right up his nose.

If you’re DeMarco Murray…well nevermind. Look, he always passed the eye test, people just weren’t looking before, but he’s averaged 4.9 yards a carry over his career. The problem is that Tony Romo and Tyron Smith have devoured the Cowboys salary cap like Galactus, and Dez Bryant has a new deal coming.

We all know Adrian Peterson is coming next year for less money than Murray would want. Now we have to see who is willing to overpay Murray.

I end this week simply. The Titans played the Jaguars. Although there were probably was a victor, let’s be honest, no one actually won.

NFL Week Five: The Week in Rebuke

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As a Philadelphian I have to talk about the Eagles, because for some reason people want to know what’s ‘wrong’ with LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles. Nothing is wrong with either person.

McCoy has lost a couple of linemen in front of him and defenses are able to crowd the line of scrimmage because the Eagles receivers are average if we’re being generous (although Jordan Matthews has shown flashes). Foles is having the same problem. Without Desean Jackson, no one is making the defense back up, and Foles is used to having wide open guys to throw to. Last year he was playing like Kurt Warner, but that wasn’t going to last forever. He’s a system quarterback, but most of them are, look at Alex Smith or Tom Brady.

The Eagles have the same problem with Chip Kelly that the Patriots have with Bill Belichick, they don’t seem to be that great at personnel decisions, but they’re great coaches. Any mastermind that decided to get rid of Jackson and keep the waste of a roster spot that is known as Riley Cooper has a blind spot.

How long do we have to endure this guy?

How long do we have to endure this guy?

Another blind spot is Rex Ryan of the Jets. They were destroyed 31-0 by the Chargers, in one of the least compelling games imaginable. Ryan pulled quarterback Geno Smith in the second half for Michael Vick, and both posted ugly numbers, Smith went 4 for 12 for 27 yards and a pick, Vick went 8 for 19 for 47 yards. The numbers don’t tell the real story though. Vick never left the pocket and made some good throws, but most of them were dropped. Smith was terrible.

It’s really hard to look at Geno Smith and understand why the Jets didn’t give Tim Tebow a shot. Smith is cursing out fans, missing meetings, engaging with the media, getting thrown off airplanes, and he’s a turnover machine. He posted a 7.9 Qb rating. You mean to tell me that Tebow couldn’t give you better than a 7.9 QB rating? You mean to tell me there’s nowhere in the NFL for a Tim Tebow or a Kerry Rhodes?

(Also, the NFL welcomed Michael Sam, a marginal defensive lineman, because he was gay. But the NFL shunned Kerry Rhodes, a Pro Bowl safety, because he was gay. What am I missing here?)

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I’m happy for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Before this week, I actually saw some people asking if the 49ers were better off keeping him instead of Colin Kaepernick. I don’t agree with that logic, but for a man considered a ‘bust’ or a ‘game manager’ at one point it’s nice to see him get some respect. As far as quarterbacks I’ve personally been around, Smith and RGIII work harder than anyone I’ve seen to prepare for games.

It’s also nice to see Chiefs tight end Anthony Fasano, a Parcells pick from Notre Dame, still in the league and still contributing. He was never a big name player, but if you were paying attention he made a lot of plays for the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Chiefs and he did it again this week with a touchdown catch. He reminded Bill Parcells of Mark Bavaro, but Jason Garrett didn’t want him. You tell me which football mind you trust.

In two years in Dallas Fasano had 28 receptions for 269 yards and one touchdown. The next year in Miami he caught 34 balls for 454 yards and 7 touchdowns. Because we tend to measure receiving tight ends by forty speed over everything else, players like Fasano get missed out on while Eric Ebron gets overvalued.

http://www.kcchiefs.com/media-center/videos/Anthony-Fasano-Circus-Catch/dc290c91-46d9-422f-b7c2-57958db250cc

Teams are also catching on to running to control time of possession and not expose questionable defenses. Dallas figured it out quickly, and the Colts won with it this week. They had a 17 and a ½ advantage in time of possession which let them survive four turnovers. (The Ravens had three. This does not make for great viewing.)

I’m happy for the Browns and the Bills, and I don’t really feel like a genius for not trusting Detroit to finish strong, because, well, it’s Detroit. (Seriously Robocop was a satire based on how bad Detroit would get in the future, and it ended up being too optimistic.)

But I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t controversial.

This has been the year, more than any other year, where football wasn’t a refuge from real life, but it reflected our society and it’s depressing. We have a culture of outrage, based on a small minority of people that cannot be placated, but insist on being genuflected to. They rush to condemn people, without researching or looking into anything. The moment they hear something their mind is made up, and no other data gets in.

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These people were always out there, but the NFL ignored them, and rightfully so. But for some reason, they are running the NFL and it sucks.

Let’s put it out there. Just because you’re a good athlete doesn’t mean you’re a great person, but when you compare them against every other person they get into trouble less than we do. And the standard we have in this country when you get in trouble is that you’re innocent until proven guilty.

This year, our Commissioner Roger Goodell has introduced a new idea, the idea that the moment you’re accused of anything, you can’t play, you get deactivated. That’s insane. How would you like to potentially lose your job the moment you were accused of something, no matter how credible the witness, or how absurd the situation? Don’t you deserve due process?

What about the teams? Is it fair to the Minnesota Vikings to lose their top offensive player on a charge that he already beat in May? Will anyone care a year from now that the Vikings weren’t able to fully compete because of this, or will these professional agitators have simply moved onto another issue?

Right now, Adrian Peterson’s charity has been shut down, and now is being raked through the coals of the media. At first, there were charges of corporate malfeasance, charities that never received money, and Peterson using the credit card for his own ends. Except no one did any actual research. Once Peterson found out about the problems with the charity, he fired the accounting company, hired a new staff, and kept up with the foundation personally. He didn’t take money, he put in $1.2 million when they needed it.

Maybe him beating his kid with a switch doesn’t feel right, but does this really sound like a guy who didn’t care about his community? A Community that condemned him without the benefit of a doubt despite the years he worked to earn its respect? And how does any of this help the kids that were the whole point of the charity? Are we surprised when athlete don’t want to give back anymore?

I have a dog in this fight. I admit it.

I was beat with a switch when I was child. My grandmother did it, not often, but it happened. I didn’t even remember. You would think it was this horrible traumatic event, especially because it looks so awful afterwards, but a lot of us who had Southern parents or grandparents got the switch and I’ve never met anyone who was too agitated about it. Peterson just has the extreme misfortune to play in Minnesota, a state that has literally no context what he’s talking about, because a Texas jury already refused to try this.

I don’t think anyone should be beat with a switch anymore. But where you might see a monster or a bully, I see a dad who was trying, and made a mistake.

I’m a large, black man. We don’t get the benefit of a doubt. Everything we do is uglier and more horrible than everyone else. The same people that find Adrian Peterson’s liaisons repulsive, find Charlie Sheen’s amusing. At least Peterson’s encounters were consensual. (Sheen is a long-time proponent of the casting coach, BTW, which is sexual harassment and intimidation at its foulest.) And to his credit, Peterson did change his life and get married.

I know what it likes to be accused of something horrible, and be condemned for it, even though you didn’t do it. All the positive things you did for people don’t matter. The credibility of the accuser doesn’t matter. The facts don’t matter. To some people, you are always that awful person, who did that terrible thing, and it never goes away.

Right now Adrian Peterson is getting ganged up on. And a lot of it is coming from his own ‘fans.’

If you don't agree with us, we'll take our ball away. So there.

If you don’t agree with us, we’ll take our ball away. So there.

This is going to end predictably. He already was a Cowboys fan, DeMarco Murray is outplaying his contract every second and you’d be a fool to think he’ll be that good anywhere else. Peterson is going to the Cowboys with a year of rest, a fire in his belly, and the best run-blocking line in the league. But what about the other guys?

You could believe that a cackling Greg Hardy threw a girl on a bed full of guns, or you could wait and see how it plays out. You could believe that Jonathan Dwyer went psycho over a couple of days, or you could have an investigation and then mete out punishment.

But for some reason, that just isn’t enough anymore.

 

 

Is it Really a Dealbreaker?

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I was waiting at a doctor’s office and they were playing Everyone Loves Raymond, which I was barely paying attention to. In it, Raymond’s brother finally finds the perfect girl. She’s pretty, has a great career, gets along with his family, displays charm, intelligence, and somehow is utterly enamored with Brad Garrett.

Hello ladies?

Hello ladies?

However, at one point a fly interrupts dinner (which she disposes of) and Raymond surreptitiously sees her eat the fly.

Dealbreakers 3

No one believes him, but when he goes to her place for coffee later (totally not coffee) he realizes that she LOVES frogs. She has frogs as pets, she has frog dollies, you get the idea. Garrett climbs out of the window into the rain, and then she steps into the bedroom.

Dealbreaker 7

When he finally addresses the issue, she looks at him and says, “You know, we all descended from frogs.”

He flees immediately.

Sure she's smart and pretty but she likes frogs. Frogs.

Sure she’s smart and pretty but she likes frogs. Frogs.

At this point I was called over by the attendant who asked me what had happened as he had missed the episode.

“That is not a dealbreaker,” he said. “I’ve dated some crazy women.”

I agreed. Its not a dealbreaker.

Let’s be fair, if it was me, and that woman ate a fly, I would be alarmed. But I would not storm off without an explanation. There are a lot of crazy women out there. At least I know this woman’s crazy and it’s not hurting anyone. There’s  room to negotiate. Maybe we could cut out the fly eating, and maybe 60% of her animals, in exchange for me tapering my weekly comic book haul, and riding my bicycle more.

It’s a result of getting older, I suppose. I understand that most people need a lot more understanding than they ever did. Also as a result of getting older, I need more understanding than I ever did.

I had an acquaintance that was a wanna be rapper (he was actually pretty good). We went to a party and he showed up with his girlfriend, an attractive Latina that seemed pleasant, but a touch shy. She was cold, and had her hands buried in a baseball jacket.

Actually, no.

I went to shake her hand, and as my fingers wrapped around her hand, my subconscious started to tell me that something was very wrong. She had a flipper. There was this part of my mind that completely freaked out, but outwardly I was calm. (You cannot just drop that on a person. You have to let me prepare for that. Seriously.) The rest of the night, she was completely cool.

It was kinda like this.

It was kinda like this.

My co-workers were weirded out, but I didn’t know how to call it. Is a flipper a dealbreaker? What if she’s a great person? Is it wrong to reject a person because of a flipper and no other reason? Aren’t there other people out there with problems at least as bad as a flipper?

Let’s say you’re in a relationship, and she has kids, and the kids are badly behaved. Or their dads are in your life, and there’s a lot of drama. Is that better than a drama-free girl with a flipper?

What is a deal-breaker then, you might ask. For me, sometimes its mental.

If I was on a date and the girl was a serious 9/11 truther, I’m out. We reached the point in society where white people are more paranoid about the government than we are, and crazy white people are scaring me.

Look 9/11 happened because the entire government was on vacation the month before when all the intel was released about the attacks. Maybe everyone shouldn’t go on vacation at the same time if you run the most important country in the world.

There’s no conspiracy. The government is lumbering, its a series of understaffed fiefdoms. Sure we have the ability to monitor phone calls and use spy satellites but some government agencies and at least part of our nuclear arsenal are still using floppy discs. There is no Illuminati. We can’t get 30 billionaires in any sports league to co-operate, do you really think there’s a silent international conspiracy of governments?

If you gave me the choice of, say, someone with a bizarre form of Tourette’s syndrome…

or someone who really doesn’t believe that the President was born in this country…

I will work with the Tourette’s.

In the end, we all have stuff we cannot stand. But as we get older and wiser, hopefully we learn to evaluate people for who they are, and not for what they couldn’t control. There are not that many real dealbreakers out there.

Then again…

I'm weak. God, I'm weak.

I’m weak. God, I’m weak.

NFL Week 4: The Week in Rebuke

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I keep forgetting they time these things.

I keep forgetting they time these things.

Another week in the books, and we are starting to realize that the Patriots are falling apart as they were bullied by the Chiefs. As shocking as it is to say, the Pats were out-coached by Andy Reid, and Reid still can’t manage the clock. Years of bad drafts, weird personnel decisions made for ‘the future,’ and just plain age are catching up to the former champs.

After a stunning 2007 season where they proved that they were perhaps greatest team ever (think about it, the 1972 Dolphins also went 18-1 over a 19 game stretch if you start at the beginning of 1972) the wheels began to come off. We just gave Belichick the benefit of the doubt for way too long.

Ya got me and Chad Jackson in the first round instead of Maurice Jones-Drew and Brandon Marshall three rounds later!

Ya got me and Chad Jackson in the first round instead of Maurice Jones-Drew and Brandon Marshall three rounds later!

The 2008 Draft landed just one player (Jerod Mayo) that stayed on the team. 2009 yielded Sebastian Vollmer, who is still a starter, and Julian Edelman. 2010 had FS Devin McCourty and Rob Gronkowski. 2011 had Shane Vereen and Nate Solder. 2012 yielded Chandler Jones and Don’t’a Hightower. 2013 has so far produced nothing, and it’s too early to call the rookie class.

But the Pats lost Donte Stallworth, Asante Samuel, Kevin Vrabel, Jabar Gaffney, Ellis Hobbs, Rodney Harrison, Larry Izzo, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Randy Moss, Deion Branch, Aaron Hernandez (*clears throat), Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, Brian Waters, Brandon Lloyd, Logan Mankins, Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes, LeGarrette Blount and Matt Light. Yikes.

Belichick obviously is having a tough time rebuilding through the draft, although there are some promising defensive picks lately, and his coldblooded frugality has ravaged the offense. The AFC East is getting competitive and looking to the future isn’t going to work anymore, especially with drafts like this.

The Bengals and the Cardinals are the best teams in the NFL. It’s a strange feeling and I don’t know what’s happening anymore.

There was a great article from Greg Cosell on yahoo this week. (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/greg-cosell-s-film-review–arizona-s-creative-and-very-aggressive-defense-211735655.html)

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In it, he describes Arizona defensive co-ordinator Ray Horton’s defensive approach, a blitz crazy scheme grounded on controlling the space between the guards and the center. This approach is devastating since quarterbacks have to step up after bouncing on their back foot, and its harder to throw accurately or run without being able to step forward. It also forces the run game outside, where it can be pursued by the outside linebackers, who now have the angle.

The NFL has gotten trendy, and nothing looks cooler than a complicated corner blitz. But like you’re seeing with the Saints or the Packers, it’s a mixed bag. Control the middle of the field.

The Lions tried to control the middle of the field with their front four, without blitzing which is an even sounder concept, but they couldn’t keep Cliff Avril, the wheels fell off of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nick Fairley ate until he was completely immobile, and Ndamukong Suh is sick of the whole thing and is ready to leave for New York. (Which New York? Next to Jason Pierre-Paul or in between Super Mario and Kyle Williams or with Muhammad Wilkerson?) They are leading the division, but we’ve been here before. Let’s see if they fall apart at the end of the season.

It’s rare this season for something to happen just the way everyone thought it would, but the Carolina Panthers got rid of Steve Smith Sr. and replaced him with a decent rookie and a bag of chips. When they played the Ravens, Smith made them pay, especially now that he can be put in the slot. Shame no one else thought of that. D’Angelo Williams reminded us that he is now our generation’s Fred Taylor by getting hurt the second he got any sort of positive running yardage (dooming my fantasy squad for the third straight week).

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Thankfully, the Raiders still suck, and they fired their coach four games into the season when clearly general manager Reggie McKenzie is the greater problem. I don’t know how firing someone a quarter of the way into the season does anything. All is right with world as long as the Raiders suck.

Also, J. J. Watt is the MVP. Just call it. It’s over. Having a quarterback win this year is like having Miss America come from New York again. He’s in a 3-4, being schemed against every game and he defenses more passes and get more knockdowns and sacks than most teams do. We are seeing a once in a generation player here, and that might be understating it.

He's 300lbs folks.

He’s 300lbs folks.

 

The NFL Week in Rebuke: Week Three

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Sorry the column is late this week. For some reason after I entered my dotage, and my concussions started to fog my mind, I decided to go back to college. I spent this summer squinting at miserable sadists who have the nerve to call themselves ‘professors.’ And I got behind on my column.

oijoi

Guess I’m dead then.

This is it. The year I quit fantasy football forever because I can’t take anymore. The 49ers stopped running, The Cardinals stopped throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, five running backs pulled up lame, most of the TEs in the league aren’t getting the ball, and the Bengals are undefeated.

The Bengals.

My implosion aside, the NFL had a great week of football.

As much as it pains me, I want to highlight the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before the season, someone asked me about Ben Roethlisberger, because we were discussing ‘elite’ quarterbacks. But any statistical argument about Big Ben is irrelevant because he has the single most important quality you need in a gunslinger.

Regular Ben doesn’t look like he could read a menu, much less a playbook, but when that play breaks down, he breaks two hundred tackles, throws across the field on his wrong foot and gets the ball into a two inch window in between three defenders with time running out and you can’t even get mad because this play happens all the time.

Yep. It happened again.

Yep. It happened again.

Also Pittsburgh was smart enough to pick up LeGarrette Blount. For some reason the league has completely undervalued Blount, despite a career rushing average of 4.7 yards a carry. I know he had a ‘slow’ 40 time of 4.59, but running with fresh legs in track shoes in no way approximates real speed. If you want to know how fast someone is going to be, put them in cleats, with 15 pounds of armor on grass.

It is worth nothing that Blount, at 250lbs had a better broad jump than Jacoby Ford, Riley Cooper, Ed Dickson, Antonio Brown, Jermaine Gresham, Brandon LaFell, Brandon Spikes, Earl Thomas, and Alterraun Verner, all of whom are much smaller than him. In the first ten yards, Blount clocks in at 1.58 seconds, faster than Von Miller, Justin Houston, and Aldon Smith. Blount’s speed might technically taper off after 20 yards but he’s hitting holes in the line very quickly and once he’s in the open, he doesn’t get caught a lot.

He got bounced from the Bucs because he wasn’t a ‘Schiano guy’ which is the highest compliment you can pay someone because Schiano is a coach with a career 79-88 record. You don’t want to be a Schiano guy. Then he tore it up for the Patriots in the playoffs and Bill Belichick turned him loose, because Belichick loves getting rid of talent for absolutely no reason. The Patriots lost Wes Welker, Blount and Logan Mankins, and suddenly Tom Brady is having the worst year ever, after having shed offensive talent every year since Randy Moss left. Good job, Coach Hoodie.

This guy coached an NFL team. This guy.

This guy coached an NFL team. This guy.

So it’s good to see him do well for somebody. Also James Harrison is coming back to the Steelers and he fits more to their identity. This could turn out well for them, because they haven’t looked particularly tough.

The Broncos were able to compete with the Seahawks this week, but in the end, it came down to coaching, and when it does the Broncos will never win, because Jon Fox and Jack del Rio can’t make quick adjustments. The Seahawks overtime drive was a thing of beauty, with Russell Wilson’s runs and short throws to backs simply destroying the Broncos defense.

There was no adjustment coming. The linebackers that were supposed to cover Wilson were too slow to get there, and del Rio didn’t pull anyone out of coverage even though he had extra defensive backs.

Sigh.

Dallas is showing a lot of heart this year, and I think they figured out that dominating the run game and winning time of possession is their key to winning this season.

Also, there was a gorgeous old school NFC East battle between the Redskins and the Eagles. I was interested in this matchup because Chip Kelly made a huge mistake and let DeSean Jackson go and got no value for him. He indicated that it would have no real effect on the offense, but LeSean McCoy is down to 2.7 yards a carry from last year’s 5.1, and his career average of 4.7. Hmm.

DeSean had a good day with a 117 yard and a great TD, but Chip Kelly is a really exciting coach, who might be the best at making adjustments in the NFL right now, and that was the difference in the game. But if you’re an Eagles fan, the fight was the best sign for your team imaginable.

Nick Foles threw what looked like an interception at the time, and he was trotting off-field when Redskins lineman Chris Baker absolutely levels him. Baker maintains that it was a legal hit, that he couldn’t distinguish the quarterback from any other player, that he was simply throwing a block on the play. But he ran behind Foles to give him the hit, meaning it wasn’t a split second decision. Foles had no intention of interfering with that play and shouldn’t have been within a mile of it. And I will tell you, after a whole game where you are fighting and clawing to get to the quarterback, you will use any excuse to hit him. It’s in a lineman’s DNA.

Head on a swivel there, Nick.

Head on a swivel there, Nick.

Baker goes to the sideline to celebrate the hit and Eagles left tackle Jason Peter savagely attack s him.

And that’s what should happen.

If your quarterback gets leveled by a cheap shot you want your offensive line to furious about it. If they indifferently step over the quarterback, you have a chemistry problem…and I’ve seen it happen.

And finally I have to end on Ray Lewis, who has no sense of irony. Commenting on Ray Rice he said that there were some things you don’t cover up, when of course, he obstructed justice on a murder, which is the most grievous charge there is.

But I do not believe that Ray Lewis stabbed anybody himself. I have solid reasons based on facts, but this is the Internet, so I went with the funniest.

Ray Lewis did not kill anyone because he was wearing a white suit.

That is the player suit. You have to have white shoes and a white shirt to go with it. You’re constantly paranoid about something getting on that suit because if you get a stain on an all-white suit, you immediately look like an idiot. If I was wearing a white suit, and Christina Hendricks wanted to ravish me on the spot, I’d say no because I’d be paranoid about something getting on my suit. If somebody wanted to fight, I would let it go. There is no insult you could say that would be so bad that I would risk ruining my suit, or scuffing my white gators.

You never heard of Frankie Beverly getting into trouble, have you? White. Outfit.

You never heard of Frankie Beverly getting into trouble, have you? White. Outfit.

You know why it’s such a big deal?

When you get a stain on your lapel in all white, it’s all anyone can see. You could be robbing a bank teller at gunpoint and they’re not going to be able to take their eyes off of the coffee stain on your chest. You look like an idiot with a stain in an all-white outfit, like you gave in to some baser instinct and ate a taco in the car.

Anyone that thinks that Ray Lewis was hanging out with eleven other guys, two of whom had knives they bought the day before, and that he decided to wade into the fight himself with his white suit on  when he could have easily outsourced that beating is an absolute idiot.

 

 

I am Not Running

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Recently, a girl I go to school with asked me if I will be willing to volunteer at an event that benefitted veterans. The event was a BBQ competition. If you know me, BBQ is serious business and I am reasonably fond of veterans. This is something that I’m inclined to do. After I established that we were not, in fact, BBQing the veterans themselves, I started to make plans to at least attend.

Conversely, I get a lot of invitations and notices about walks or runs for one cause or another. I want to be clear on this.

I’m not running.

If there were a zombie apocalypse, and my life depended on me running, then I would die eaten by zombies. I’m not happy about it. My fight or flight response has been replaced by a fight response. Flight is not an option.

When people ask you to run they immediately stop speaking English. They saunter up to you and ask you to run ‘a 5K.’ Whoa. This is America. We use miles. Why did you suddenly switch to the metric system? Are all bets off once we start talking about running? Are we like, “Runner 26, is five hands high, and is moving along at 12 knots, which is a nice little clip?”

We use miles, you commies.

Plus, the concept is insulting. Most of the time, its a walk for lupus, or a run for cerebal palsy. Well, guess what? Those people can’t walk! Its like helping the blind,by teaching color theory classes, and then telling them about it.

“Guess what Timmy? Everybody walked for you today! Hundreds of people walking together, wearing pictures of you and your withered legs in your wheelchair. Isn’t that great?”

I am not walking either. Running is near impossible, but walking is death by a thousand cuts. There’s this point where I start getting warm, and then there’s this spot on the back of my neck that I can’t get dry and I keep thinking there’s a spider on me, but its just sweat. But its too late. Once your brain goes “Spider!” that is it. You just keep thinking there is a spider on you.

My underwear relocates to one side of my groin and rubs me raw, and by the time I quit mentally, I realize that my journey is only half over…because now I have to walk back.

My wife likes to walk, so the whole time we do it, she’s smiling and looking at stuff and chattering. Its like being in a concentration camp and having a cheerful guard.

Just so you know, when I ignore your Facebook invite, its not personal. I’m not running.

 

NFL Week Two: The Week In Rebuke

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So far, this has been an amazing year of football in terms of parity. Unless you’re the Raiders, you have the potential to win every game. The teams that are supposed to be good are absolutely terrifying.

Green Bay has looked very beatable, and the defense has been downright hospitable. They beat the Jets on a referee mistake, although, honestly, had Rodgers gotten the ball back with the score tied, it still may have been a Jets loss. Denver has let a lesser team compete with them for the second straight week. You only have so many goalline stands in you. San Francisco gave up late scores to Chicago, and the Seahawks lost on the road. New Orleans lost to the Browns, and the Bengals beat the Falcons who looked so impressive last week. I have no idea who is supposed to be elite anymore.

I do know that I feel great for the Texans, Cowboys, Ram, Cardinals and Browns to at least be competitive. You get tired of the same teams being bad all of the time.

I would just like to add that Rolando McClain led his team with 7 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. For some reason, this guy got roundly mocked for taking time off to deal with his issues, but more people need to do that in the NFL. (See Rice, Ray.) Also he was presented as a bust, but everyone forgot how formidable he was when he was playing for the Raiders. In a rough year for players in the media, it’s nice to see some redemption.

Yeah, this happened.

Yeah, this happened.

If you are the Raiders, it took you so long to clear the dead wood from the team that the GM and coach are going to get fired before Khalil Mack and Derek Carr pay off. Then again, Derek’s brother David was thrown onto a lousy Houston team and ruined for life, so maybe throwing him into the fire isn’t the best idea. Oakland lost promising lineman Jared Veldheer to Arizona, (Oh look, randomly Andre Ellington looks great and the Cardinals are winning with their backup QB!) and then the ghost of Al Davis appeared, the Raiders panicked and started spending money like Wes Welker at a racetrack.

They found 29 year old LaMarr Woodley, whose last great pass rushing year was 2011, and who was just cut by the lousy Steelers defense and they were like, “Hey, do you want $10 Million dollars for no reason, what-so-ever?” Ditto for Justin Tuck, who was part of a pass rushing unit that hasn’t been as effective since Michael Strahan retired, and for wide receiver James Jones, because signing Green Bay receivers whose worth has been inflated by Hall of Fame quarterbacks has worked out for everyone. They got Donald Penn who was too average for Tampa Bay, which is saying something and the utterly unimpressive Matt Schaub.

The Raiders are hopelessly bad, after a couple of years of trying to recover from being hopelessly bad. Somewhere Al Davis is smiling as he files a lawsuit. This week they played the Texans where J.J. Watt caught a TD pass, sang the national anthem, and stayed late to clear the field of debris, because there is literally nothing he can’t do.

In 2011, there were ten people picked before J.J. Watt. Normally, this is where you make fun of teams for blowing the pick, but only two teams did, the Titans picked Jake Locker and the Jaguars picked “Blame” Gabbert. The other players?

Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, and Tyron Smith. Robert Quinn and Ryan Kerrigan were off the board pretty soon after Watt. Muhammad Wilkerson came near the end of round one. Wow. What a draft. Do you know how badly you have to suck as an executive to come out of 2011 with nothing?

Speaking of the Jaguars, they can’t cover. For some reason, people think that there’s a quarterback controversy in Washington, because sticking pocket passers behind leaky offensive lines works out well. This Kirk Cousins thing is stupid.

Kirk Cousins started in 2013 and lost every game with a passer rating of 58.4. RG III posted an 82.2 on the same crappy team, playing on a bad plant leg. Cousins has a good day against a terrible Jags pass defense and everyone loses their minds. Fine. If your subtly racist Northern Virginia fan base wants RGIII to move on, he should pack his bags and move on from this train wreck of a team to a better situation, instead of getting the stuffing beat out of him for fans that are inclined to pick him apart for any perceived transgression. (For the record, Cam Newton is sulky and lacks composure, but Johnny Football is passionate. Gotcha.)

The San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles won. Both teams have the greatest asset a football can have…coaches that make adjustments. They don’t have the most talent in the world, but you can always compete if the coach can think on the fly.

And finally…Adrian Peterson.

adrian peterson

This is the subject of a great racial divide from what I’ve seen. If I were to use sweeping generalizations, I’ve seen white people condemn Adrian Peterson as an abuser, and I’ve seen black people offended by the breach of privacy for his family.

Spanking is not as offensive among minority communities, and if you’re over 30, you were probably spanked as a child. From what I’ve read about Peterson, he is fantastically strong, something he doesn’t quite seem to realize (apparently he’s crushed many a hand doing handshakes) and I don’t think he should be using a switch to beat his children. I don’t think anyone should be using a switch, frankly.

What alarms me is that he already figured that out. When the media covered this, they didn’t highlight his text conversations. Peterson’s private texts show a thoughtful, disciplined person (who can’t spell). After the spanking, he acknowledged that it hadn’t gone the way he intended, that the switch had wrapped around his son’s thigh which he hadn’t realized, even that a stroke had gone astray and hit the child in the testicle…which if you’ve ever endured corporal punishment sometimes accidentally happens. (Also, having been beat with a switch by my grandmom, the wound don’t immediately show up. You swell up afterward. You look terrible, but it doesn’t really hurt once the spanking stops.) He then said he had stopped spanking the child after that, and instead put him in ‘time out’ for the rest of the summer. He also said that he explained to child what he had done wrong and what he expected both before and after the spanking.

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t sound like an enraged abuser. We habitually see athletes neglecting their children, and not supporting them. Peterson sounds like an engaged dad that was trying to raise his children. Maybe he didn’t do it the best way by non-East-Texas standards, but he was trying and he’s getting treated like Ray Rice.

Well…

Speaking of Ray Rice…

When I saw him punch his fiancee I felt sick to my stomach. Ray Rice did a horrible thing, and I find it hard to believe that that was the first time he’s done something like that. Also, he spit on Janay, which I find worse in a way. You spit on people you just don’t care about, that you have no regard or respect for. But it think it’s a little to linear to simply call him a wife beater.

When I watched the video and saw them argue, what struck me is that Janay Parker was not afraid of Ray Rice. In cases where a man is physically abusive, usually the wife and children are afraid of him, but I did not see the least bit of fear in her. Afterwards, she has been his most vocal defender. Maybe it’s just bluster, but I really believe she doesn’t know why people are so upset.

It made me think that their dysfunction went somewhere beyond the typical model of domestic abuse that we think of. They sound like two people that are in love but probably bring out the worst in each other. They got drunk, went to casino, and things got ugly, and they get ugly a lot. They don’t need to be with each other and until they can work their issues out, they don’t need to be with anybody else either.

I also find it quite interesting that the media focused on this case but did not assign the same notoriety to Oscar Pistorius, who not only killed his girlfriend after an abusive relationship, but will do no jail time and is free to race again. For some reason there is just not the same intensity of outrage from anyone.

It’s hard to see Week Three topping this level of drama, but we’ll see. What happens next? Will we suddenly think about creepy Robert Kraft’s and Belichick’s girlfriends are? Will we wonder what else the NFL swept under the rug? Will the Bucs be even mildly interesting? Stay tuned.

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Desert Island Disc: My Rebuttal

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It pains me to discuss Tom’s list, because music is intensely personal and no one’s tastes match, nor should they. It feels kind of like a cheap shot to criticize someone’s choices.

Also, I was amused how much of a populist list this was from someone with Tom’s music industry background. I was expecting a rare song from an Aborigine group that only used instruments made of coral reef and shark bones.

Or this.

Or this.

He went with Sade, Marvin Gaye and Genesis. Thanks for making me look like a hipster. Then again, there are no black hipsters.

There are some high points on this list, you can’t go wrong with Marvin Gaye, I could listen to “Love Ballad” on a continuous loop and never get tired of it, the Sade song isn’t my favorite one by her, but it’s Sade. I loved the inclusion of David McCallum, because the whole crime jazz thing is pretty cool.

Lauren Hill is a heartbreaking talent, just seeing her on the list is hard, because she was so great. Kool and the Gang is an underrated band, so it’s good to see someone rep them too. I’m sort of intrigued with the idea of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Triumph” as being the pinnacle of hip-hop. He used Sister Nancy as his reggae representative, my first list included Slim Smith. I don’t mind that.

Also he included James Brown. If there’s anything that pisses me off about black people its that we are disinterested in preserving our history or memories. James Brown is a musical giant, and people are forgetting about him and the idea that kids would grow up and not know who he is is intolerable.

Here’s my problem with his list.

Remember when Britney Spears did the Michael Jackson comeback concert, and she looked phenomenal? Just super hot?

And then remember when she fell apart, gained weight, went completely crazy, started walking around barefoot, and then moved on from her backup dancer to a guy she met in rehab?

Britney Spears wanders around a rehab facility in LA after checking in for an undisclosed treatment

Tom did the musical equivalent of picking crazy, bad weave Britney.

There were two Phil Collins, the uncanny power pop guy (In The Air Tonight, Just a Job to Do, Against All Odds, etc), and the guy that would ride a dull melody into the ground (Follow You Follow Me, Two Hearts). Tom picked bad Phil. I think I’m probably on a desert island just to get away from “That’s All.”

And one bad Phil Collins song wasn’t enough, the whole column ends on “Take me Home.” The last song we put is going to be the first thing anyone remembers. His list will be remembered for Phil Collins “Take me Home.”

I risk my man card here, but Coldplay has made some good songs.

Rats. I was afraid of that.

Rats. I was afraid of that.

This is not one of them. “Trouble” combines boring, with sad, with kinda long. Also, Tom said my list was depressing. Pot, meet kettle.

Daft Punk just made an incredible album with Nile Rodgers and Pharell Williams. Really exciting stuff, it sounded retro and fresh at the same time. Tom ignored Random Access Memories and picked their old, unambitious house single “One More Time.” Yikes.

The Bee-gees are associated with disco, but they were uncanny songwriters beginning with their Beatle-esque single “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (which they wrote as teenagers!) or the touching “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” or “Emotion.” Tom picked “You Should Be Dancing,” from the most dated part of their musical catalog.

Ray Charles was a tremendous talent, but “Lonely Avenue” is only two minutes and thirty seven seconds long and it feels like ten, mostly it is built on one riff that is beaten into the ground every two seconds. You want great Ray Charles? Try “I’ve Got News for You.”

In short, I can’t argue with his artists, but I don’t understand some of his picks. But it is his island. Just stay off of mine.

Tom’s Infinite Desert Island Playlist, Finale

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It’s been a long time since we drifted on to our tropical prison, but our prayers have finally been answered: http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lnbhlhiZR81qjcbiwo1_500.gif

We’ve made booze!

Be fermenting a combination of sugar cane, mango pulp and coconut water, we have managed to concoct a libation that, while tasting terrible, manages to get you drunk as shit in record time. With our ticket to moonshine blindness in hand, it’s time to listen to the final 5 cuts from the Desert Island Playlist. Since drunkenness and nostalgia go hand in hand, we begin with….

“They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y)” – Pete Rock & CL Smooth

Pete Rock is a god amongst aspiring beatsmiths, having pioneered the jazz and soul-infused production style that the late J-Dilla and Kanye West used to catapult themselves to super-producer status. He has produced for damn near everyone, from hip hop legends of the past and present, underground kings and aspiring MCs, and even pop sensations like the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga.

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He also produced for Jim Jones, but I won’t hold that against him.

His 1992 album with his partner CL Smooth, Mecca and the Soul Brother, is a critical darling, and still stands as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. And no song makes the reason why more plain than the group’s magnum opus, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”.

Recorded as a tribute to Trouble T-Roy, best known as one of Heavy D’s eponymous Boyz, the song encapsulates everything the group got right in their all-too-short pairing: CL Smooths’ rhythmic musings, while not the most intricate, worked beautifully with Pete Rock’s outstanding production – the urgency of the message was beautifully accentuated by stirring horn loops and soulful atmosphere, while the beat made bobble heads out of all that heard it.

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The idea of hip-hop as an art-form has taken a severe beating in today’s era of disposable music, but if you wanted to make the case, you couldn’t find a better exhibit A than this. “They Reminisce Over You” still stands as one of hip hop’s finest recordings, a shining example of the genre’s power to not just tell you a story, but to musically transport you there, and immerse you in the artist’s state of mind. It’s no wonder then that this is one of my favorite cuts, and one that I couldn’t take a sabbatical from society without.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5f/Mary_J_Blige_album_cover_My_Life.jpg“Be Happy” – Mary J Blige

Before Mary J Blige exploded onto the scene with 1992’s What’s the 411?, she purposely eschewed the refined, pop ready look and feel of R&B songstresses like En Vogue and Mariah Carey who dominated the charts at the time. Her music seamlessly entwined hip-hop with the raw, gospel-tinged, soul-bearing vocal energy pioneered by Aretha Franklin, creating the sound that propels modern urban Pop and R&B hits to this day.

I’m just gonna leave this right here:

Mary more than lived up to the expectations set by her initial success with My Life, the brilliant sophomore album that cemented her legacy and actually made her worthy of the title “Queen of Hip Hop Soul”. My Life finds Mary in a great deal of pain: At the time she was dealing with a great deal of personal tragedies, and many of the album’s best songs are steeped in sadness. It’s for this precise reason that the first single, “Be Happy”, is the album’s standout piece, and one of the songs I can’t do without.

From it’s windswept intro to it’s mantra-chanting fade out, “Be Happy” finds a woman bottoming out experiencing a moment of clarity. It’s the precise moment when Mary figures out that the way to rid herself of her demons is to begin to love herself – it’s an amazing moment of power on an album driven by vulnerability. It’s especially comforting to hear these days, since it showed us the woman that Mary J Blige would become.

She may have been crawling through a river of shit at the time, but Mary figured out how to come out clean on the other side.

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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413jGnsPA5L.jpg“Can’t Hide Love” – Earth, Wind & Fire

I was glad to see that Tom picked a record by Earth, Wind & Fire, because they are one of my all-time favorite bands. Many musicians, including some classic artists, have a tendency to throw up the reels – to use a familiar formula in order to achieve success from follow-up songs after having a hit record. Earth, Wind & Fire are one of very few groups from which no two records ever sound alike, yet all of their arrangements are still incredibly accessible – hardly any of their songs doing hard turns into experimental ditches.

 

“Can’t Hide Love” isn’t even the best song from Gratitude, but that’s just a testament to how good the album is. A powerful horn section, accompanied by an amazing bass arpeggio, draw you in to this incredible groove from the first few notes. The interplay between Maurice White’s verse and Philip Bailey’s hook, coupled with the band’s whip-perfect timing on the intricate arrangement, is a classic example of what made the group legendary.

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/KDTXljIqxRE/hqdefault.jpg“Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” – William DeVaughn

Another in a long line of soul records that made the list, “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” is the best known song from William DeVaughn, but it boasts a simple message that continues to stand the test of time, minus the Cadillac part.

 

 

In recent years, is seems that artists have forgotten that music can be used to deliver a message in a non-preachy way: Either a song is too on-the-nose about an issue or cause to be popular, or too shallow to resonate with people. I also think that’s kind of a shame, because songs like this demonstrate that this is not the case. In today’s consumption-driven world, where material possessions are too often equated with self-worth, the idea that you don’t need a bunch of extravagant goods to have pride and happiness is lost on a lot of people. It’s one that I wish more artists would share with their audience.

I also think this one is right at home in our desert island setting. As you contemplate the desperation of the situation, it can be very hard to stay positive about getting out. I imagine that, at some point, you will have to make peace with the idea of staying there forever, and that means looking on the bright side: You have your life, you have your health, a beautiful view, and a large quantity of materials to make more booze from.

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I’ll drink to that!

It’s at this moment, when you have given in to the notion of staying on the island forever, and surrendered to the idea of pickling yourself with homemade hooch until the end of your days, when you suddenly see it: A boat on the edge of the horizon.

You quickly spring to your feet just to make sure this isn’t an alcohol-fueled hallucination, and, drawing on your movie-inspired survival education, quickly dash the bottle into your fire. The bottle shatters and ignites the moonshine, creating a mushroom cloud that does two things: First, it completely singes your eyebrows off. It also gets the attention of the boat.

At long last, the long nightmare is over. You may have been driven half mad by isolation, you maybe completely smashed, and you may have naught but charred skin where your eyebrows used to be, but at long last, you are going home.

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You’re pretty excited about this, but no one will be able to tell.

And for that glorious moment, I picked what I believe is the perfect song to get you there:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/archive/0/06/20140723143131!Nojacket.jpg

 

“Take Me Home” – Phil Collins

After achieving worldwide success with Genesis, Phil Collins embarked on a journey as a solo artist, and “Take Me Home” is one of his best songs.

 

 

Inspired by One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the song tells the story of someone who’s been so beaten by circumstance he doesn’t even mind the situation anymore. He doesn’t even remember what home feels like, but he longs for someone to transport him there, because he doesn’t even know the way.

It’s one of the few Phil Collins solo songs that haven’t aged poorly over time, and it still conjures up that longing feeling in any road-weary soul who hasn’t seen their family, who has been so caught up in the rat race that they long for a simpler time, or even a simpler existence. I think we have all felt that longing at one time or other, and pop music is at its best when it is able to stir those type emotions up in you. This one does that in spades, making it the perfect closer to the list.

And with that, we set sail off of the desert island, with a few things in hand: A deeper appreciation of the need for human companionship, an appreciation for a few amazing tunes, and the recipe for an awful-tasting cocktail that will certainly be a hit with the binge-drinking crowd back home.

four_loko_by_jcgroovez-d469q9q

You hear that, Four Loko?! We’re coming for YOU!

NFL Week One: The Week in Rebuke

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There is nothing more satisfying in football than seeing ‘bad’ teams win, and all of your predictions and forecasts going out of the window in one quarter. Unlike any other sport, the NFL has created an environment where every team is trying to compete; one of a handful of reasons the NFL is the dominant sport in America.

Of course the NFL is trying to ruin it.

The NFL is trying to clamp down on the physical contact between defensive backs and wide receivers, because once a year an owner or coach loses a game and throws such a tremendous tantrum that they get the rules changed. The NFL has ceded control of the game to attorneys, because there is a strong correlation between tort and gameplay.

Those rule changes are decided by the Competition Committee, who had a combined 2013 record of 63-80-1. I don’t know if I want these guys determining how the rest of the league plays, but at the very least they need to change their name.

The first game of the season was between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. The defensive rules were enacted because of the Seahawks last year, but there were few calls against them in the actual game. In fact, there were very few calls this week for defensive/offensive holding or pass interference…except for the Cowboys/49ers game which came to a halt every five seconds. It’s like it was called by a completely different referee crew. It’s another year where no one knows what the rules are and it completely depends on the crew you get.

green bay 1

For some reason Aaron Rodgers got criticism for the game he played, but I also have to blame a gameplan that concedes one side of the field to a single player. Green Bay didn’t even try to contest Richard’s Sherman’s side, which meant that Rodgers was immediately stuck throwing to really small windows on one side of the field, against the best defense in football. If you’re a receiver or tight end for the Packers, your coach just told you they don’t think much of you.

Romo

I’m also defending Tony Romo. 37 pass attempts doesn’t sound like a lot, especially when you realize he was down most of the time, but this doesn’t pass the smell test. Romo was rusty, he has a bad back, he was taking shots, and Dez Bryant went down. Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray was cutting through the depleted 49ers defense at 5.4 yards a clip, behind the best run-blocking line in the league. Controlling time of possession through running would have preserved Dallas’s shaky defense, so of course, in key situations (and from the 2 yard line in the red zone!) Dallas passed leading to turnovers and failed conversions.

San Fran

It’s also worth noting that Dallas was roundly mocked for starting linebacker Rolando McClain who had been out of football getting himself together as he recognized that he was going down the wrong path, because apparently that’s crazy. McClain had 8 tackles yesterday, 7 of them solo.

Miami

But that’s how the day went. The Dolphins always play the Patriots tough, but this time they finished strong, aided a great deal by Bill Belichick’s idiotic trade of Logan Mankins, which allowed the Dolphins pass rush to devastate their offense. Tom Brady accepted a team-friendly contract, hoping that the Patriots would build a great team around him. Instead they stored assets for the future and refused to spend money. I think I just described the first Wall street bailout.

Atlanta beat the Saints, with Matt Ryan having a jaw-dropping day. Fun fact, in my fantasy league Matt Ryan went in the second to last round of the draft, after kickers, defenses and backup Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. I thought they took Ryan too soon at the time.

Buffalo beat the Bears. You hope this is the year that Buffalo is at least dangerous, since their defense has been vicious for years. The Texans won, and J.J. Watt continued to demonstrate that we are watching all-time great. The Bengals beat the Ravens again in what’s starting to feel like it was a changing of the guard.

Jesus, the Ravens are depressing. Ray Lewis retired, they resigned Joe Flacco, and things started to fall apart. He wasn’t worth that kind of money, and they lost Anquan Boldin. Every great offense needs that one guy you can go to when you need a first down, or in the red zone and that’s what Boldin and Todd Heap did for the Ravens. Well, they’re gone, and the offense has suffered, because Flacco just wants the deep ball.

And Ray Rice. Wow.

Ray Rice

Look, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. No one did. We didn’t know what happened in that elevator. You shouldn’t hit women, but Rice is a powerfully built man, and we didn’t know if maybe she struck  him and he pushed her and she hit her head or what. I know everyone is on their soapbox now, but I wasn’t sure what actually happened.

Well, the tape leaked, and it literally couldn’t have been worse. Rice hit her harder than the last five boxing matches I’ve seen. I don’t know what ‘investigation’ the league could have done without seeing this tape, but it calls into question any other research they’ve done recently, because this guy shouldn’t have sniffed a two game suspension and this tape had to be easy to get. How does TMZ have better resources than the NFL?

Cleveland and Jacksonville looked very competitive, which was a good sign for the rest of the year.

mcl

Also, a sprain is a tear. Just say it with me, a sprain is a tear. Evan Mathis went down with what was diagnosed as an MCL sprain and everyone went “whew, thank God it isn’t torn.” A sprain is a tear; it’s just not a complete tear. A lot of offensive lineman went down this week, and that’s going to play a big factor this year.

We have a tendency to compare quarterbacks to all-time greats. Honestly, Andrew Luck reminds me of John Elway, a mobile gamer with a cannon for an arm, and a flawed team around him. Watching him nearly beat the Broncos again, reminded me of how thrilling this guy really is. The problem with praising Luck is that people tend to view him as a winner and RGIII as a bust, even though Luck has a career passer rating of 81.6. But Kenneth Arthur of Rolling Stone Magazine puts it best:

…Per ProFootballFocus, [Luck] had a lower percentage of “air yards” than 25 other quarterbacks, with just 49.7 percent of his passing yards coming from his throws alone. This means that over 50 percent of his total passing yards came after the catch, implying that his receivers did much of the work…[Luck] had 60 throws to targets that were 20 or more yards down field and completed 17 of those attempts…a lot is made of his poor offensive line, but he was considered “under pressure” on 37.5-percent of his drop backs, good for 10th-highest percentage in the league. Luck had 327 dropbacks with at least 2.6 seconds in the pocket, fourth-most in the league. He’s had plenty of time to throw.

Conversely, Robert Griffin III has a career passer rating of 91.8 with a lousier team. But he’s a bust, right?

One last thing. I live in the Philadelphia area, so of course, the Eagles game was a big deal. Nick Foles threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns. That sounds great.

In actuality, this was the most terrifying game that could have possibly happened to the Philadelphia fans. Once DeSean Jackson left, Eagle coach Chip Kelly assured everyone that it wouldn’t matter that the only guy on the team that could stretch the field and demanded a double team had gone to a division rival for nothing.

The moment the game started, Nick Foles was in obvious panic mode, because no one was as wide open as he was used to. He looked terrified and unprepared. He missed easy throws, held the ball way too long, and looked utterly outmatched.

I rarely do this kind of thing, but if it weren’t for the fact that Jacksonville forgot to cover a wide receiver, giving up a big play to Jeremy Maclin for 68 yards, we’re talking about Nick Foles going for 254 yards with 1 TD, one pick, and two fumbles against one of the worst teams in the league.

Star running back LeSean McCoy was limited to 3.3 yards a carry (karma for being a bad tipper?) as the Jaguars dared the Eagles receivers to get open…and they were mostly right.

The Eagles are going to face stiffer competition outside of their division, and this was an alarming. Its rare to see a starting NFL quarterback look as terrified as Nick Foles did, and the backup is Matt Sanchez. Ye Gods.

Can’t wait for next week.  
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