Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck, Duck, Goosed.

Here's the thing about this Duck Dynasty dude and what he said.

He can speak his mind, no matter how ridiculous or insulting or hateful it is, which he did.

We can mock him mercilessly for his comments, which we have.

The company that airs his show, which is trying to attract fans FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE, is allowed to disavow him and suspend him, which it did.

His being suspended has nothing to do with freedom of speech - it's purely a business decision. A&E wants to make money. It makes money from advertisers. Advertisers buy time on A&E based on how many people watch its shows. The more people who watch, the more money advertisers will spend.

If A&E does nothing, people will push for a boycott, which a) is bad press and 2) leads to fewer viewers. That would be bad for business. A&E did what it had to do to ensure that all - ALL - of its fans keep watching all - ALL - of its shows. Some of which have nothing to do with ducks, apparently.

For all we know, A&E could agree with this guy. But the company is smart enough to not bite the hand that feeds. Everyone is allowed to voice their personal opinions, but they can't be shocked if some of those opinions come back to bite them in the anus.

So really, in the end, it's about capitalism. Which conservatives like Sarah Palin are allegedly all about. So they should totally be on board with A&E's decision to suspend the duck dude. Right? RIGHT?

Sigh.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Post NFL Week 12-13-14 Predictions

Predictions based on the results of Week 12-13-14

The Giants will do something very un-Giant-esque. Instead of stringing along their fans by making them thing their team has a chance at the playoffs before failing to reach the playoffs in a spectacularly painful fashion, they will get knocked out of playoff contention with three weeks to play.

I supposed kudos are in order for trying something different this year.

Remember that team that was 1-3 and then 3-5, that went two weeks with a grand total of three points, that started the season 0-4 at home? That team will be in first-place in the NFC East standings with three weeks remaining. E A G L E S Eagles!

NOTE: You know what makes Philly a dark horse in the playoffs, if they get there? They’re playing well late (have won five-straight, best current streak in the NFL), they’re excellent on the road (NFC-best 5-1 mark, tied with KC for best road record in the NFL), and they have Nick Foles. Wait, what was that last one?

“It’s not you, it’s us. We just don’t think you’re good enough.”
--How Mike Shanahan will tell RGIII that the team is breaking up with their Subway eating quarterback (at least for the rest of the season), as rumors swirl about Shanahan’s future with the team and the general douchiness of owner Dan Snyder.

All of a sudden, the NFC East will no longer be the division where the team in first-place has the worst record of all division leaders…that honor falls to the NFC North! Congrats, Detroit and Chicago!

Remember when Tampa Bay and Jacksonville were both 0-fer and in the lead for Downey for Clowney? Both teams will screw up their chances at landing the speedying star Clowney by winning, thus disappointing their fans. Good job, Bucs and Jags. Way to play hard even though there’s nothing to play for. Losers.

The team currently in first place for Clowney…everyone’s favorite darkhorse Super Bowl pick, the Houston Texans! Clowney will love playing for Cowher/Lovie/Harbaugh/Phillips/Whisenhunt/Shaw.

Not even I can predict which coach will get the Texans gig.

Houston has its work cut out, as it will have to lose to Indy, Denver and Tennessee to hold off Atlanta and Washington in the first overall pick sweepstakes.

I take that back – Atlanta and Washington are screwed. Houston’s getting the first overall pick.

In Week 12, in one of many chapters in the Manning v Brady storybook, the Patriots will come back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Broncos in overtime.

If the Football gods don’t give us Denver-New England II in the playoffs, they will not be doing their job.

Despite losing to the Patriots, the Broncos will still have the inside track to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. All they will need to do is defeat San Diego, Houston and Oakland (combined record: 12-27) to clinch the first overall seed. Might as well start making those January travel plans to Denver now, boys…

The Saints will defeat Carolina in week 15 to become just the third team to win the week after playing the Seahawks. Teams that play Seattle will improve to 3-8-1 in the week following their game against the Seahawks.

After Week 14, all four teams in the AFC South will have a negative point differential. The division clinching Colts will be the only division leader with a negative point differential.

These are things I now know.

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)

Dear Anti-College Football Playoff People,

I’ve heard a lot of talk about how the implementation of the college football playoff next year will make the regular season pointless, and I can’t tell you how much that sentiment grinds my gears. “Games like this year’s Iron Bowl won’t have as much meaning,” you say. “Regular season games won’t mean as much,” you argue.

What the what?!

Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, the Florida Gators men’s basketball team won back-to-back national championships. You might have heard about it. It was kind of a big deal. Despite solid, if unspectacular, seasons following the second national championship, the Gators missed out on the NCAA Tournament and were relegated to the NIT. Head coach Billy Donovan realized that the biggest reason his team wasn’t being given more NCAA Tournament consideration was the fact that his non-conference slate wasn’t as strong as other teams. So he changed his scheduling philosophy, and the team has made the NCAAs ever since. This season, already Florida has traveled to face Wisconsin (No. 4) and UConn (No. 9) on the road and hosted Kansas (No. 13).

Why do I bring this up? Because this year, Florida State’s non-conference matchups were Nevada, Bethune Cookman, Idaho and Florida. Auburn’s non-conference games were Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic. Real stellar stuff.

Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which an early regular season loss does not knock a team out of national championship considerations. Imagine that college football teams, worried not of an early regular season defeat but instead of the lack of a tough non-conference schedule, playing other college football teams that share that same concern. Suddenly those Auburn-Arkansas State games become Auburn-Ohio State. Florida State against Florida becomes...Florida State vs. Florida (ok, bad example).

Those regular season games later in the season become even MORE important than they are now. Suddenly, Auburn and Alabama are not competing with two or three other teams for national championship consideration, they’re competing with four, five, six or even more teams for playoff consideration. Plus, they might be playing for SEC Championship berth. So on multiple levels, the regular season becomes absolutely vital. Big games at the beginning of the season, big games at the end of the season, win-win for the fans.

The only group that suffers with the incoming playoff is the FCS schools who won’t be getting that big payday to be beaten by 80 points. Certainly those games won’t disappear – Homecomings have to be played, after all – but the idea is that they will not be played with such regularity.

The change won’t happen overnight. The first year of the playoffs will feature more BCS-FCS matchups than we would want, but it won’t take away the importance of regular season games, beginning to end. And those last three weeks of the season, as teams jockey for conference championships and playoff consideration will be a beautiful, wonderful thing.

I’m excited. You should be too.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Post NFL Weeks 9-10-11 Predictions

Predictions based on the results of Weeks 9-10-11

Just a few predictions from the last month or so, with no apparent rhyme or reason (or so I would have you believe [there’s no rhyme or reason])

Pearl Jam will go with a new advertising strategy during the World Series, paying FOX to go to commercial break with PJ songs. Joe Buck will attempt to show the kids how hip he is to the music of today by talking about a new song by the band that actually came out 20 years ago. Some might argue that Buck was merely straddling the space-time continuum, but I think it’s more that he just has no idea who or what a Pearl Jam is.

Quick thought: FOX obviously new it was going to be using a plethora of Pearl Jam songs during the World Series. I would assume Buck new as well, since he was part of the promotion. So wouldn’t Buck, or one of the producers, make sure he knew which songs were from the new album and which were from back in the day? Especially since it is quite apparent that Buck is not a Pearl Jam fan. Nothing wrong with that, to each his or her own, but if you’re not a fan of a band and that band’s songs are going to be used during your broadcast as part of a promotion wouldn’t you do the necessary research to make sure you had all the important information?

One week later, Troy Aikman will prove how he has football on the brain, when he will say, “to use a baseball term, it was a three and out.” Guy literally can’t get football out of his head. Maybe that’s a side effect of concussions. NFL should really look into this.

Why do I bring both of these stories up? Because Buck and Aikman will be the announcers during Super Bowl XLVIII (this year’s game). Might be a good time to try the SAP button on your remote.

After week 11, the NFC East will be the NFC at-least-three-teams-are-in-contention-for-the-division-title-making-this-race-more-interesting-than-you-would-think-because-of-the-teams’-records.

Even Washington, 3-7 and in last place, will be only 2.5 games behind the division leader after week 11.

Tampa Bay, which started 0-8, will be 2-8 after beating the Falcons in week 11. Atlanta, which last year went to the NFC Championship, will also be 2-8 after week 11. Perennial Super Bowl darkhorse favorite Houston will also be 2-8 after week 11.

Let that sit with you for just a second. Atlanta and Houston will be just one game ahead of Jacksonville after week 11.

The Jaguars and Bucs will pick up their first wins of the season on the same week. The next week, Jacksonville will come to its senses and get back to losing, while Tampa Bay will win yet again.

So to recap, the Jaguars are still the frontrunners for downey for Clowney, but they have some competition. Who will screw up and win games down the stretch? Stay tuned!

Denver will put to rest all that talk about it being a wild card with an emphatic win over Kansas City. The 1972 Dolphins will be able to party like it’s, well, 1972. The 2013 Dolphins will not be able to party because they are grounded.

Richie Incognito, not content with merely bullying Jonathan Martin, will file a grievance against the Dolphins, which could be construed as an attempt to bully THE ENTIRE TEAM.

The Bull is strong in this one.

Carolina will be on a six-game winning streak after week 11, with victories over the Niners and the Patriots.

Carolina-New England will end when officials pick up a flag that would have given the Patriots first and goal at the one-yard line with one play to win or lose the game. The world will all agree it was a terrible no-call. Well, the TUCK YOU, Patriots.”

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)

Dear Sports Announcers,

This may seem like I’m picking on Kirk Herbstreit, but I’m not. I think Herbstreit is great - one of the best analysts maybe ever. He knows the game, he's not condescending, he sounds like he's having fun doing the broadcasts...it makes me feel like you could be having a beer with him while watching the game and it would be exactly how it sounds on TV. So this is not an anti-Herbstreit thing. This is actually a message to all play-by-play and color analysts. Yes, it was Herbstreit who prompted this letter, but this is not about him. It’s about all of you. And a word you all tend to toss around.

“Courage.”

Towards the end of USC’s upset win over Stanford, Herbstreit said that the Trojans had shown a “lot of courage” in beating the Cardinal. That stuck with me. Was it really courage they showed? These are football players, playing a football game, against a conference opponent that they play every year. It’s not like Stanford was this big bad bully that USC stood up to when it didn't have to. Heck, talent-wise, both teams were probably fairly similar. But to go in and upset a top-ranked team when you are not ranked…is that courage?

I say it’s not. I say analysts should no longer be allowed to use the word courage when discussing how a team played. That, to me, is not courage. You could say they showed confidence, or moxie, or onions if you’re Bill Raftery. Those all would be applicable. But courage, to me, should be reserved for life or death situations. For situations where one makes a conscious decision to do something regardless of the consequences to one's well being. To be military, law enforcement, firefighters, first responders and the like, THAT takes real courage – to go into a battle, to fight crime, to run into a burning building, to run into a disaster to help the wounded…all of these are conscious decisions that are made to risk one's life to help others.

Some might make the argument that football is a violent sport and that these players are risking their lives when they step out on the field. To a point, I would agree with that. I think a receiver who goes over the middle and makes a catch even when he knows he’s about to be clobbered by a charging safety shows courage. I think a quarterback who ignores the defensive end flying at him to complete a pass before getting pancaked to the ground shows courage. I think a running back who takes on basically the entire defensive front seven to try and get one yard shows courage. But those are on specific plays, from specific players, in specific moments. And even those situations don’t have the same ring as “fire fighter runs into burning building” or “cop chases down armed suspect.”

I guess what I feel is that the word “courage” is being taken for granted. Did Stanford not show courage because it lost to USC? Both teams played just as hard, but USC just finished with more points. Heck, for my money, military spouses show more courage every day than a football team does on game day – what they deal with and worry about on a day-to-day basis while still functioning…it’s amazing. 

So announcers, let’s put the kibosh on using “courage” for any sort of sports situation. It insults those people who show true courage. Like bloggers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bully For Them

We take a break from our regularly scheduled predictions to bring you a very important message:

Bullying sucks. Bullies suck. People who let Bullies Bully are cowards.

With that in mind, I give you the 2013 Miami Dolphins!!


When word came out that the Miami Dolphins’ young offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, had left the team because he was being harassed and bullied by fellow lineman Richie Incognito, the responses were predictable. The few who thought it was ridiculous that a grown man was bullying another grown man were drowned out by the majority who felt that Incognito was trying to make a man out of Martin and only real men play football and therefore Martin must not have been a real man and he needed to be toughened up. Apparently, you toughen people up by calling them names and telling them you’re going to kill them.

The Dolphins immediately suspended Incognito indefinitely and put on the reserve/non-football injury list. Neither will play again for Miami this season.

The Dolphins coaching staff/front office claimed they had no idea this was going on, but there are also reports that they told Incognito to toughen Martin up. There are also reports that Martin went to GM Jeff Ireland, who allegedly told Martin he needed to punch Incognito.

Dolphin teammates rushed to the defense of…Incognito, saying they had no problem with him (a white guy) calling Martin (a black guy), the N-word, before falling into the “we’re just concentrating on football” line of defense.

Former teammates rushed to the defense of…Martin, saying that a) the Dolphins absolutely knew what was going on and 2) Incognito is a jackass.

Analysts used Martin’s Stanford education and Harvard-educated parents as reasons why he doesn’t fit into an NFL locker room. I can’t decide if that’s more insulting to Martin or the other guys in the locker room. Also, I have no idea how that leads to Martin getting bullied.

There are so many things that bother me about this story, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with this idea that in order to “toughen someone up,” you need to harass and bully them. Say what? Didn’t that idea die out in the 50s and 60s? By the way, both decades called: they want the way they raised their sons back. Where else in today’s world does anyone think this is a good strategy?

Why did anyone think that Martin needed to be tougher? He started for four years at Stanford, a team that year in and year out played “smash-mouth football.” Two of those years he played under head coach Jim Harbaugh, who seems pretty tough. He even yells at little kids! I don’t know about you, but I’m confident in saying Harbaugh wouldn’t accept anything but toughness from his players.

What kind of sick mind thinks it’s ok to treat someone the way Incognito was treating Martin? Please note: the sick mind is not only that of Incognito’s but also anyone on the Dolphins who felt that his actions were necessary and/or beneficial to Martin. All of these “big, strong, tough” men didn’t have the balls to say to Incognito, “hey leave that guy alone.”

And kudos to the absolute moron who decided that Incognito, a guy who has had numerous off field issues, who is currently with his third team in eight years, would be good to have on the Dolphins’ player leadership council. At that point, you’re just asking for trouble, which you received, so job well done.

This might sound simple but apparently it’s way too complex for the Dolphins: we’re all different. Different people respond to different things in different ways. Perhaps some players like getting yelled at, maybe that’s what works for them to get fired up on the football field. Other players just like quiet solitude, alone with their thoughts, getting their minds on the task at hand.

I’ve never met Jonathan Martin, but the people on TV tell me he’s quiet. I guess that was one of the factors that led to him being bullied. I get the sense that he didn’t feel he needed to be pushed and bullied around to become “tough.” He was tough already, but because he didn’t fit in with what the Dolphins perceived “tough” looks like, he needed to be toughened up. For the Dolphins, making their players tougher is a “one size fits all” method, which as we all know is how the real world operates. Everyone gets motivated the same way, right? No? Oh.

Look, I know it’s hard to stop someone from bullying others. We tend to let bullies get away with bullying because we don’t want them to turn their attentions on us. Much easier to let them pick on somebody else. I have been bullied, and I have bullied. And even if I wasn’t the one actively bullying, I didn’t stop those who were bullying, and that makes me a bully by association. I don’t really think about the times when I was bullied. I do, however, think about the times where I was the bully, either actively or passively. To this day, it bothers me that I wasn’t strong enough to stop people from bullying others.

I might not have been strong enough to stand up to bullies, but Jonathan Martin was. After being harassed and threatened and pushed around, he had enough. He was man enough to do something about it. That’s why, for my money, the toughest player on that Miami Dolphins team is currently on the reserved/non-football injury list.

NOTE: The best article written on this situation was by Brian Phillips for Grantland. Read it. After you read mine, of course.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Post NFL Week 8 Predictions

Predictions based on the results of Week 8

Remember how the best team in the NFC East is finally over .500?

It won’t last long.

The best team in the NFC East will have the worst record of any of the division leaders. Feel free to break out the “world’s tallest little person” jokes at any point.

The Cowboys will lose in the most heartbreaking (read: awesome) of fashions.

Trailing by 3 with 2:24 remaining, Detroit will go 0 yards on four plays and give the ball back to the Cowboys, who will kick a field goal.

Trailing by 6 with 1:02 remaining, Detroit will go 80 yards on six plays and score a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining.

Dez Bryant will spend the week telling everyone who will listen, so basically everyone, that he is not Calvin Johnson, he is Dez Bryant, who is better than Calvin Johnson.

ESPN will spend the week showing side-by-side stats that say Dez Bryant is better than Calvin Johnson.

Calvin Johnson will take 60 minutes out of his Sunday to definitively prove them both wrong.

Your brain will spin when you realize that the only undefeated team in the NFL will be the Kansas City Chiefs.

Your brain will stop spinning when you realize that the two teams with nary a victory between them will be the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Bucs.

The Giants will improve to 2-0 when their defense shuts out the opposing offense but their special teams gives up a touchdown.

New York’s defensive line, with six sacks ON THE SEASON coming into the game, will sack Philadelphia quarterbacks FOUR TIMES IN THE GAME.

The Eagles, with offensive guru Chip Kelly at the helm, will score zero points after scoring just three last week.

The last time a Chip Kelly coached offense scored in the single digits in back-to-back games was…never. It’s never happened before. Not once. Not at New Hampshire (1999-2006) or Oregon (2007-12). Not until now. Welcome to the NFL, Chip!

The NFL’s plan to get an NFL team in London will go great, as the 49ers will demolish the Jaguars. (Just don’t tell the Brits that they will be getting the Jaguars, not the 49ers.)

The AFC West will improve to 7-0 over the NFC East.

The Broncos will have as many wins against NFC East opponents than the NFC East leader will have altogether.

After the Packers take care of the Vikings, I think a legitimate question will be: hey Greg Jennings, how does Aaron Rodgers’ leadership taste?

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)
Dear Dez Bryant,

I know Calvin Johnson. Well, I don’t know him, but I know his work. But the point is, you sir, are no Calvin Johnson.

In your head-to-head matchup on Sunday, you had a very respectable game with three catches for 72 yours and two touchdowns. You might not have seen it while you were yelling at exhorting your teammates, but Johnson had a slightly-better-than-very-respectable-game, with 14 catches for 329 yards and a touchdown. In fact, it was his catch in traffic that led directly to Matthew Stafford’s one-yard plunge for the gamewinning touchdown with seconds left on the clock.

In fact, Johnson had almost half of Matthew Stafford’s 33 completions on the day (42.4 percent), despite facing constant double, triple and quadruple teams.

Much was made leading up to the game about how your numbers are better than Johnson’s when he was 50 games into his career (you had 242 catches for 3,440 yards and 33 TDs; he had 217 for 3,362 and 25 TDs).

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. You have had Tony Romo throwing to you for basically your entire career (with the occasional Jon Kitna here and there), as well as Jason Witten and Miles Austin, etc. to make sure defenses don’t key on you too much.

Here are the quarterbacks Calvin Johnson caught passes from over his first 3.1 years: Jon Kitna (hey, that guy again!), Dan Orlovsky, an out-of-shape Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton. Then he had Stafford as a rookie QB.

Here are the receivers Calvin Johnson played with over his first 3.1 years: Shaun McDonald, Roy Williams, Mike Furrey, Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt. It’s a regular “who’s that” of NFL wide receivers.

The point being that if you had to play with those quarterbacks and those receivers, a) there would have been a LOT of yelling on the sidelines, and 2) you wouldn’t have near the numbers Johnson had. Because Johnson got those numbers despite a constant barrage of double, triple sometimes quadruple teams. Do opposing defenses key solely on you, sending two, three sometimes four defenders? Are you able to beat those double, triple sometimes quadruple teams on a regular basis? No, yes, no and no, and sometimes, no and no.

Talent-wise, perhaps one day you will be as good as Calvin Johnson is now. But that’s not enough to be the best. You also have to be professional. You have to practice as hard as you play. You were lucky enough to be on a team that, over your first three years, went 22-26. How do you think you would have reacted if your team went 9-39 over your first three years? Because that’s what Johnson’s Lions did. And you never heard a negative word from the guy. Whatever he was feeling, he kept it to himself.

Here’s another thing: do you know that this is the first time in your career that you’re leading the team in receptions? It’s true. Jason Witten has been the team leader in receptions the past three years. That’s how long it’s taken Romo to fully trust you as a receiver. It took Johnson all of one year before he became his team’s leading receiver, and he has yet to relinquish that mark. Not coincidentally, it also took Johnson all of one year before we started referring to him as possibly (later, definitely) the best receiver in the NFL today.

Dez, I think you’re a very talented wide receiver. Maybe even very good. But you’ll never be the best. That spot is reserved for the one we call Megatron.

Speaking of Calvin Johnson’s nickname, I thinking case you weren’t aware, in Transformers, Starscream was never Megatron’s equal but always wanted to be his better. That seems fairly self explanatory. Plus, you scream a lot. Also, you seem to think of yourself as a star. It really fits too perfectly. Maybe you really ARE Starscream…

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Post NFL Week 7 Predictions


Predictions based on the results of Week 7

Congratulations will be in order to the NFC East, which will see its division leader move over .500 for the first time since week 3.

The NFC East and AFC North will remain the only divisions with just one team over .500. No big deal though – not like teams in those divisions have any kind of rabid fan bases or a history of success.

The Giants will pick up their first win of the season against a Vikings team whose only victory was against the Steelers who are in the AFC North!

The Giants’ win will mean that only two teams will remain oh-fer. Both will be from the wonderful state of Florida.

In fact, the best that wonderful state of Florida will have to offer will be Miami, which will see its losing streak extended to three games. 

That same wonderful state of Florida will extend its losing streak to three weeks. Teams in Florida will fall to 3-16.

The three teams from the wonderful state of Florida will see their record in games played in the wonderful state of Florida fall to 1-8.

After the Bucs lose at Atlanta, the Falcons will send a crew in haz-mat suits into Tampa Bay’s locker room.


For the fourth time in seven games, the Jaguars will score in the single digits. On the plus side, their next game is against the 49ers, with the seventh-best scoring defense in the NFL, so nobody will be expecting Jacksonville to score.

The Rams will fall to the Panthers and lose quarterback Sam Bradford for the season in the process. St. Louis will then reach out to the 44-year-old Brett Fav-ruh to see if wants to suit up (he won’t).

Tim Tebow will be all, “who’s a guy gotta pray to to get signed around here?!”

The Patriots will lose to the Jets. It won’t be because of New England’s inability to get into the end zone in the second half while allowing New York to score 17 points in the third quarter and come back from a 21-10 deficit, but because of a penalty that was called incorrectly on the Patriots in overtime as the Jets missed a FG.

It will be a very confusing 24 hours. It also won’t be the first time the Patriots will be involved with a call that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but was correct. Isn’t that right, Raiders fans?

Monte Kiffin, whose USC defenses gave up 53, 35 and 62 points to Chip Kelly’s Oregon, will hold Chip Kelly’s Eagles to three points.

Monte Kiffin, whose USC defenses practiced against current Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley, will see his Cowboys defense pick the rookie off three times in the fourth quarter.

Bears fans will have a nightmare where their backup quarterback will replace an injured Jay Cutler…which will turn into a pleasant dream where that backup qb will go 14-of-20 for a 204 yards and a touchdown and the team will score 24 points in the second half…which will turn into a nightmare as the defense will give up 45 points including a touchdown with 45 seconds remaining in a loss to the Redskins.

That will actually happen?

Oh.

After week 7, the Redskins and Bears will rank 25th and 26th in the NFL in yards allowed. Apparently, the difference between 25th and 26th place is four points.

The Steelers will beat the Ravens in a classic AFC North slugfest, which would be more impressive if the teams wouldn’t be a combined 5-8 after the game.

After week 7, only one team will be undefeated. If you picked the Chiefs to be that team, then you and I are going to Vegas posthaste.

Teams that play the Seahawks will fall to 0-6 in their next game. Actual prediction: the Falcons will beat the Cardinals next week to make it 0-7.

Hollywood is working on an football movie. It’s about a team that was always a preseason favorite for the Super Bowl, a team that was always “on the cusp.” The season the movie will focus on will show the team win its first two games and then lose its next five, with all the drama that such a losing streak entails.

It will be called, “Remember the Texans.”

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)
Dear Vikings,

Here are the career statistics of four quarterbacks:

Player A: 57.6 completion %, 80 TD, 67 INT, 77.8 QBR
Player B: 59.1 completion %, 88 TD, 67 INT, 79.2 QBR
Player C: 59.2 completion %, 33 TD, 30 INT, 75.8 QBR
Player D: 59.2 completion %, 85 TD, 59 INT, 80.8 QBR

Who are they, you ask? I’ll give you a hint: three of them are on your roster. The other was available during the offseason.

Player C (Christian Ponder) led you to a 10-6 record last season and the playoffs. Sure he was helped by Adrian Peterson’s incredible season, but with very little in the way of wide receivers he was able to throw for just under 3,000 yards with 18 TDs and 12 INTs.

But you thought highly enough of Ponder that instead of getting a QB during the offseason – for example Alex Smith (Player B) – you went out and got him a good receiver in Greg Jennings. Then Ponder fractures his rib on Sept. 22, Matt Cassel (Player D) steps up and leads the team to a 1-1 mark…and you of course then sign Josh Freeman (Player A) to be your starter. Freeman, of course, who was cut by the Buccaneers. After you signed Freeman, head coach Leslie Frazier said that Ponder is the starter if he’s healthy.

Here’s my three-part question: 1) if you didn’t think Ponder was your quarterback of the future, why didn’t you either draft someone or trade for/sign someone like Alex Smith during the offseason? 2) Why do you feel Freeman is a better quarterback than Ponder? 3) If Ponder is your starter when healthy, why even sign Freeman? Cassel led the team to a win over the Steelers and has proven to be a solid NFL quarterback, which is really what you need from your backup. If Ponder is your starter when healthy, why would you sign someone that would make Ponder ponder if he really IS your starter when healthy?

Look at the statistics above. Ponder and Freeman are basically the same, except Ponder has never had a Vincent Jackson or Mike Williams to throw to. Ponder knows your system. Ponder stepped his game up when his team needed him most, throwing for 234 yards and three touchdowns in the final game of the 2012 regular season to lead the Vikings to a 37-34 win over the Packers, punching a ticket to the playoffs in the process.

Minnesota, I worry that you are the girl who dates a jerk thinking she can change him, that he’ll be better with her, that she’ll make him a nicer person. Newsflash – it never works out that way. We are who we are. Quarterbacks who complete under 60 percent of their passes are quarterbacks who complete under 60 percent of their passes, and that's the way it is.

After his disastrous performance against the Giants (20-of-53, 190 yards, one INT, no offensive points), you told everyone that he wouldn’t play in your next game because of a “concussion,” which I’m going to translate as “he doesn’t know the playbook and we don’t want to embarrass him or us by admitting he wasn’t ready to be our starting quarterback.”

You’re right, concussion sounds better.

Ponder has a chance to replicate his performance from that regular season finale a year ago, as he will get the start against this week’s opponent, the Packers. I for one am hoping that he will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he IS the starter when healthy.

At the very least, it will give him a leg up for the new coaching staff next year.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Post NFL Week 6 Predictions

Predictions based on the results of Week 6

The good news for the NFC East: two teams – TWO – will be at .500 after week 6!

The bad news for the NFC East: those two teams will be tied for first place.

The NFC East will be the only division in the NFL whereby the first place teams are not better than .500. On the bright side, the NFC East will finally have more combined wins (seven) than the teams with the best record in the NFL (six)!

The bad news: two teams – TWO – will fall to 0-6.

The good news for the Giants: they will only be three games back of the division leaders.

The good news for the Jaguars: they will totally beat the ridiculous and NFL record-tying 28-point spread that Las Vegas favored the Broncos to win by.

The bad news for the Jaguars: they will still lose by more than two touchdowns.

The good news for the Jaguars: Tim Tebow is avaiiilablllle!

The bad news for the Jaguars: Tim Tebow is available.

In what may be a sign that things they are a-changing in Cincinnati, the Bengals will blow a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to the Bills but still win in overtime.

In what may be a sign that things are not a-changing, the Buccaneers will fall to 0-5 with a loss to the Eagles.

For the third-straight game, the Eagles will have three drives of over three minutes, including their second-longest drive of the season, taking 5:29 in the fourth quarter en route to a field goal. Their longest drive this season: 6:32 against Denver (that also led to a field goal).

Could Chip Kelly finally be learning how to win in the NFL?

Thinking….

Thinking….

After week 6, the combined record of the three teams the Eagles’ will have defeated will be 1-15. But that one win came against Oakland (by Washington), and the Raiders will be 2-4…yeah I wouldn’t hold my breath, Eagles fans.

The Jets will come into week 6 tied for second in the AFC East. The Steelers will come into week 6 dead last in the AFC North. So of course Pittsburgh will defeat New York handily.

Remember when Matt Flynn had that great game with the Packers in 2011, throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns against Detroit? Since that time, he went to Seattle (where he threw for 68 yards OVER THE ENTIRE 2012 SEASON) and then Oakland (where he threw for 246 yards over two games this season). In fact, he’s been so impressive for the Raiders that they will make the decision to play a concussed* Terrelle Pryor against the Chiefs.

*I’m sure he passed every single concussion test the Raiders gave him with flying colors and was completely and 100-percent healthy for the game.

Pryor will throw three second-half interceptions** as the Chiefs will improve to 6-0.

**I’m sure he passed every single concussion test the Raiders gave him with flying colors and was completely and 100-percent healthy for the game.

The Raiders will cut Flynn, but all is not lost, as he will sign with the Bills, who have a long history of giving fading quarterbacks one more chance (see Leinart, Matt).

The Chiefs’ six wins means they will have already TRIPLED their wins total from a year ago.

In a battle of kinda sorta Super Bowl contenders, the Packers will hold off the Ravens by….and this is crazy…running the ball! Eddie Lacy will become the third GB running back to break the 100-yard plateau this season. It will give the Packers three more 100-yard rushers this season than they had all of 2012. And 2011. And 2010. COMBINED.

In fact, the last time the Packers had three 100-yard rushing games in a season was 2009.

Running the ball! Who knew?!

The Texans will lose their kinda sorts Super Bowl contender status with a home loss to the Rams. Surprisingly, there will be very few “Houston, we have a problem” jokes, even though Houston really does have a problem. In fact, many.

The Patriots, without Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski or Danny Amendola, will defeat the Saints in what will so far be the game of the season, scoring a touchdown with seconds remaining in the game.

The reason? Tom Brady’s short hair, of course. “He looks so much better with short hair,” my wife will say.

The 49ers and Seahawks will improve to 4-2 and 5-1, respectively. The Colts, who defeated both San Fran and Seattle, will go into San Diego…and of course lose.

These aren’t your Norv Turner San Diego Chargers anymore.

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)
Dear College Football Playoff…um, people,

Archie Manning. Condoleezza Rice. Ty Willingham.

What do these three people have in common? A week ago, not a whole lot. I mean, Archie Manning played college football, and Ty Willingham coached college football, including the school that Condoleezza Rice attended, and Manning…well maybe Manning voted for Dubya.

Now, however, the three will be a part of the selection committee for the upcoming football playoff, which will begin next season.

Most college football fans have been waiting for a playoff for YEARS, and I think we’re all very excited to see it come to fruition. March Madness is filled with drama and excitement and Adam Morrison’s tears and is probably the greatest three-plus weeks of the sporting year (outside of a year that includes the World Cup). So for college football, arguably the most popular sport this side of the NFL, to have a playoff…well suffice to say it’s going to be a fun couple of weeks.

But before we get to the actual games, we have to pick the four teams to compete. Manning, Rice and Willingham will be a part of that group.

The rest of the group includes Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, Wisconsin AD and former head coach Barry Alvarez, former superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, Southern Cal AD Pat Haden, former NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstedt, Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, West Virginia AD Oliver Luck, former Nebraska coach and AD Tom Osborne, former BIG EAST commissioner Mike Tranghese and former USA Today college football reporter Steve Wieberg.

Most of these names I don’t mind. You have the big five conferences represented with Long (SEC), Alvarez and Osborne (Big Ten), Haden (Pac 12), Luck (Big 12) and Radakovich (ACC); you have smaller conferences represented in Gould (Mountain West) and Tranghese (American née BIG EAST (and yes I know the BIG EAST is still around but how many times do you really get to use née?)); you have current and former ADs (Alvarez, Long, Osborne and Radakovich); former coaches (Alvarez, Osborne and Willingham) and former players (Haden, Luck and Manning); you have media (Wieberg); you have NCAA (Jernstedt).

My issues are with Manning and Rice. Manning you could make the argument because he played at Ole Miss and was named to the College Football Hall of Fame. But that doesn’t hold a lot of water to me because what has been his involvement with college football since he graduated? He’s been as an analyst on TV and he’s served on the board of the National Football Foundation since 1993, but neither of those qualifications necessarily mean that he’s following all the college football teams closely.

And Rice has minimal qualifications when it comes to college football. Certainly she held an impressive job as Secretary of State, which I’m sure gave her good negotiating skills, so maybe that’s why they picked her? Is it because she’s a fan? I know a lot of fans (I happen to be one), and I don’t think loving college football makes one qualified to pick the four teams that will play for a national championship. Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the BCS, said of Rice that “[she] knows this game, she is a student of this game.” I don’t even know what that means.

Plus, doesn’t it seem strange that Stanford has three representatives on the committee? Rice went to school there and worked there, Willingham coached there and Luck had a son who played there. On the plus side it’s not Notre Dame that college football is over involving.

I guess my issue with picking Manning and Rice to serve on the committee is that it reeks of PR to me. Remember, the BCS is the same organization that in 2005 decided to replace the AP Poll (filled with media members who cover college football for a living) with the Harris Interactive Poll (which has included such college football stalwarts as Terry Bradshaw and Boomer Esiason, guys who talk about the NFL for a living). Sure, Bradshaw and Esiason had name value, sure, but nothing much else when it comes to college football.

But those were the names that the BCS presented to us as proof that the Harris Poll was a viable replacement for the AP Poll. How did the Harris Poll fare, you ask? Well next year college football will have a playoff to replace the BCS. So I guess you could say the Harris Poll fared perfectly well, at least with regards to the destination (just not so much with the journey).

I don’t think, as some have suggested, that one needs to have played college football to serve on the committee. But I do think that one needs to have worked in a college football setting where you’re involved with the day-to-day operations, either as a player or coach, school athletic administrator or conference representative, or media.  Manning has the player part but not much else. Rice has school administrator but not much else.

But what they do have is name recognition, and that sets off the warning bells in my head. Because it reminds me of the Harris Poll, which reminds me of all the issues with the BCS, which reminds me how we finally got to this Playoff in the first place.

Although, if my worries are proved correct, and history is any indication, the College Football Committee will screw up the final four badly enough such that in a few years, we’ll have an eight- or 16-team playoff. Which is what most of the fans want anyway. Viva la BCS!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Post NFL Week 5 Predictions

Predictions based on the results of Week 5

In our ongoing “what team is better than all of the NFC East combined” series, New Orleans, Denver and Kansas City will all have as many wins by themselves (five) as the ENTIRE NFC EAST COMBINED.

The NFC East will be the only division where all four teams have losing records.

Just how bad will the NFC East be? The Giants, at 0-5, will be a mere two games back of the first-place Cowboys (2-3) and Eagles (2-3). The Chiefs will have one more win against NFC East opponents (three) than the best teams in the NFC East will have overall, by themselves (two each).

Meanwhile, in the NFC South, the Saints will end week 5 with a 5-0 record.

The rest of the NFC South will end week 5 with a 2-11 record.

After week 5, the Bengals will remain undefeated at home (3-0) and defeated on the road (0-2).

The standings after week 5 will show what a topsy-turvy season 2013 has been so far.

2012 Final Four team Atlanta: 1-4
2012 Playoff team Washington: 1-3
2012 terrible team Kansas City: 5-0

If Houston is indeed a Super Bowl contender, as many love to say that they eventually will be, what does that say about San Francisco, which will demolish the Texans in week 5, and Seattle, which upended the Texans in week 4?

And if the 49ers and Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders, what will that make the Indianapolis Colts, which will have wins over both of those teams?

After week 5, the Jets will be one game out of first-place in the AFC East. Let that sit in for a minute.

Hey Eagles fans, remember last year’s Coach of the Year, Bruce Arians? He took over as head coach of the Colts while Chuck Pagano was dealing with cancer and led them to a 9-3 record and the playoffs. He is now 3-2…with the ARIZONA CARDINALS.

But no no, I’m sure Chip Kelly will be great for you. Really.

After week 5, the Manning brothers will have combined for 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, which is respectable, until you realize that Peyton has 20 of those TDs and only one of those INTs.

The Broncos will outlast the Cowboys in a game where the final score will look like that of a college basketball game.

Tony Romo will prove yet again that he just can’t win. Despite his 506 passing yards and five touchdowns, the only thing people will take away is the takeaway that he gave away with under two minutes remaining.

The 51 points the Broncos will score against the Cowboys will equal the Jacksonville Jaguars’ scoring output of 2013.

Sorry, Giants, Steelers and Bucs – I think the Jags have Downey for Clowney just about sowed up.

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)
Dear Tiki Barber,

My how the mighty have fallen. This might seem like piling on at this point, but it bears repeating what has happened since you left the Giants: the team won two Super Bowls, you were let go from NBC’s Sunday Night in America, you allegedly cheated on your pregnant wife with an NBC intern, you got fired from NBC, you tried to get back into the NFL and failed, you started hawking a company where fans can pay to meet celebrities/athletes, you covered the Howard Stern Show Staff Fantasy Football Draft on SIRIUS/XM, you joined CBS Sports Radio.

But wait there’s more. Your former teammate Michael Strahan is a talk show host on not one, but TWO major networks, including taking over for Regis on ABC – the type of show that I’m sure you expected to be hosting on NBC after you retired. Your brother, who has a Super Bowl ring himself, is even starting his own NFL Analyst career on FOX Sports1.

Why do I bring this up? Well one, you seem like kind of a douche, so it’s fun to knock you. And two, I was thinking about some of the things you would have said about this 0-5 Giants squad if you were still on NBC, and I bet it would go something like this:

“Coach Coughlin is very hard-nosed, and [players don’t] get a lot of time off, [can’t] sit down and rest…and so it was a constant grind -- a physical grind…that [takes its toll].”

I’m sorry, you did say something like that. In fact, you said exactly that, except you were talking about yourself.

“Coach Coughlin is very hard-nosed, and I didn't get a lot of time off, couldn't
sit down and rest myself, and so it was a constant grind -- a physical grind on me that started to take its toll. The grind took its toll on me and really forced me to start thinking about what I wanted to do next. And that's not a bad thing. That's a good thing, for me at least. Maybe not for the Giants, because they lose one of their great players, but for me, it is.”

That was your first mistake. To this day, it grinds my gears that you felt the need to bash your former coach right after you retired. Heck, you even went so far as to criticize Eli Manning’s leadership and then in 2010 you said that Coughlin was losing the team. And if I listened to CBS Radio, I’m sure I would hear you saying the same things.

“The best thing that they did was release Josh. Somehow, someway that situation had to end. It had gotten toxic from both sides. Josh was manipulating, everybody felt like Coach was manipulating, but I don't feel like Greg was that kind of guy. Greg wants what's best for this team. I think he can get the locker room back. I want to see him get the locker room back.”

That was what your brother Ronde said in response to a question about how Greg Schiano is handling the current situation with the Bucs. Do you hear that? It’s certainly not the sound of someone being thrown under the bus, because that’s what Ronde did NOT do. When you watch Strahan on FOX, and they ask him about the Giants, do you know what he does NOT do? Throw his former coach/teammates under the bus. He might criticize and point out where they need to work on things, but you can do that without being critical. There’s a big, big difference, one that you apparently were too blinded by your own greatness to see.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Post NFL Week 4 Predictions

Predictions based on the results of Week 4

After week four, the NFC East will have four victories between the four teams.

After week four, five teams will have four victories by themselves.

After week four, Kansas City will be one of those 4-0 teams, including three wins against NFC East opponents, which is one win shy of the win total of the entire NFC East.

Cut to the 0-4 Giants chanting, “so you’re saying there’s a chance!”

No.

No there’s not.

Only one NFC East team will win during week four, as the Redskins will get off the schneid with a victory over the Raiders.

Even Mike Shanahan won’t have it in his heart to feel his usual extra happiness at beating the team that once fired him after just a year and four games.

Not to be outdone, the AFC North will also see just one of its teams win a game, and that was only because two of its teams played each other.

If you predicted that the lone AFC North team to win during week 4 would be the Cleveland Browns, then get thee to a lottery.

The Broncos will hang 52 on the Eagles.

No letter for Chip Kelly this week – the Broncos are really, really good. Like, best in the NFL good. Like, so good that their season will most certainly end…with a Manning pick or a Welker drop in a crucial moment late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

After week 4, the Eagles will be second in the League in total offense and first in rushing, which is great.

After week 4, the Eagles will be last in the League in opponent’s yards per game and second to last in opponent’s points per game. They will also be second to last in opponent’s passing yards per game and 26th in opponent’s rushing yards per game.

Good thing Philadelphia fans are so forgiving!

In the battle of defeateds, the Vikings will pick up their first win of the season while dropping the Steelers to 0-4.

After the game, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger will make the statement, “Right now, you could say we’re the worst team in the League.”

Nice try Ben, but the pollsters aren’t going to rank you below Jacksonville in the Downy for Clowney sweepstakes. The nerve of the guy, trying to sway the voters.

After failing to convince anyone that he supports Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano will finally realize that he has no other option but make the move to rookie quarterback Mike Glennon.

Here are Freeman’s 2013 game-by-game stats that got him benched:
at New York Jets (L): 15-31, 48.4 CMP%, 210 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 67.9 QBR
vs. New Orleans (L): 9-22, 40.9 CMP%, 125 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 56.1 QBR
at New England (L): 19-41, 46.3 CMP%, 236 yards, 1 INT, 54.5 QBR

Here is Glennon’s line against the Cardinals:
vs. Arizona (L): 24-43, 55.8 CMP%, 193 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 55.7 QBR

See? Totally different.

For the second straight week, the almost but not quite Super Bowl contender Texans will face a real Super Bowl contender.

For the second straight week, the Texans will lose.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman’s pick six will tie the game, as the Seahawks will win in overtime. Great. Now there will be NO shutting this guy up.

Thank goodness the Texans will next play….the San Francisco 49ers. Oh. Well.

Pre-prediction of a prediction for the week 5 predictions: for the third straight week, the Texans will lose.

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)
Dear Al Davis,

This is not a letter about something that grinded my gears, it’s a letter of apology. Because I’m sorry, sir. Five years ago, almost to the day, you fired a young up-and-coming coach. You held what we all called a bizarre press conference conducted by an old man whose sanity had obviously gotten off at the last stop. During the conference, you called this coach you just fired “a flat-out liar” and a “professional liar” and that he “conned me like he conned [the media].” You also said that this coach objected to drafting JaMarcus Russell, and we all know how that pick panned out.

Ok, so maybe your sanity had indeed left you at that point, but you were right about one thing: Lane Kiffin had to go, and that's why you fired him. We all thought you were nuts. You were nuts, but we all thought that you firing Kiffin was just more evidence of your nuttiness. We all thought this was another Mike Shanahan situation: young coach who does decently well, but not well enough to suit you and then you axe him and he goes on to have a successful career. Both Shanahan and Kiffin had improved the Raiders by two wins their first year and each were 1-3 their second season when you decided to fire them. Shanahan went on to a great career with Denver and now Washington. We all assumed the same would happen with Kiffin. Turns out, you were the only one who could see what was going on. After you fired him, he was hired at Tennessee, where he tried to prove that then-Florida head coach Urban Meyer was a cheater (in retrospect, he might have been was right). Then Pete Carroll left USC for Seattle and Kiffin took the Trojans’ gig faster than you could say “NCAA Violations,” even trying to take some of his Tennessee recruits in the process. Kiffin did ok at USC, despite dealing with limits in scholarships due to NCAA sanctions, but not well enough, and he was fired literally hours after a loss to Arizona State.

So Mr. Davis, I’m sorry for doubting you. You obviously saw something in Kiffin that the rest of us did not, something behind that baby face of his that told you he was perhaps not a great coach, and perhaps not a great person. So that was one thing that you were right about in your later years.

Actually, that might have been the only thing you were right about in your later years.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Post NFL Week 3 Predictions

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Predictions on NFL Week 3 (based on the results of NFL Week 3

The race for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is officially on!  Your 0-fers after week three will be: Bucs, Giants, Jaguars, Redskins, Steelers and Vikings.

Two of these teams are not like the others…I’ll give you a hint which two – they play in the same state. Also, they have no idea who they want as their quarterback. Also, they are terrible. Even more terrible than the other four teams. Also, one of them is so bad a local television station felt the need to apologize for broadcasting one of their games.

The end of week three means it will be time to pick a phrase to honor the teams that will tank to get the No. 1 overall draft pick. I like “Downey for Clowney.”

After week three, the undefeated teams will be: Chicago (Chicago?!), New Orleans, Seattle, New England, Miami (Miami?!?!), Denver, Kansas City (Now you’re just pulling my leg).

Thanks to the Redskins and Giants and Eagles (1-2), after week 3, Andy Reid’s KC Chiefs will have as many wins AS THE ENTIRE NFC EAST COMBINED.

Let that sink in for a little bit.

Reid’s Chiefs will have played more NFC East games than any of the NFC East teams.

That will probably change at some point this season.

Two AFC North teams (Cincinnati and Cleveland) will surprise everyone (including themselves) by edging two NFC North teams (Green Bay and Minnesota, respectively), with the margin of defeat four points in each contest.

In fact, the AFC North will go 3-1 on the week, with its lone loss…Pittsburgh! Boy that Todd Haley signing is working out quite well, huh?!

Baltimore will defeat perennial preseason favorite and perennial postseason disappointment Houston.

Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers will lose back-to-back games for the first time in his NFL coaching career.

In fact, it will be the first consecutive losses for a Harbaugh-coached team since 2009, while he was at Stanford.

For the second-straight week, Harbaugh will lose to a team that features two players who played under him at Stanford, as Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and the Colts will send the 49ers to 1-2 on the year.

After week three, Harbaugh will still have three games to go against teams with two players who played under him at Stanford: the Cardinals twice (Jim Dray and Stepfan Taylor); the Seahawks once (Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman).

We could be looking at a five-loss season for Harbaugh and the Niners!

Or we could be looking at a completely meaningless statistic that interests only me.

I predict it will be one or the other.

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)
Dear Chip Kelly,

I’m not going to say I told you so, but I’m making the face. Did you learn nothing from last week?! YOUR OFFENSE WILL NOT WORK IN THE NFL IF YOU CONTINUE TO ALLOW THE OTHER TEAM ‘s OFFENSE TO REMAIN ON THE FIELD FOR 40 MINUTES!! Some might say that your offense is not the problem, that your defense is what you should be concerned with, but how can your defense perform if it’s exhausted FROM HAVING BEEN ON THE FIELD FOR 40 MINUTES?!?! Your longest drive was your first – and that was because your offense was on the field for 56 seconds, threw a pick six, and then was back on the field for another 2:43. In fact, the Chiefs longest drive came in the fourth quarter – it took 8:15 off the clock and resulted in a field goal. Do you think that if your defense was more rested, they would have been able to get off the field sooner?

Your offense needs to s l o w  d o w n. Not all the time – just every once in a while. Give your defense a breather. The longer your offense is on the field, the more rested your defense will be the next time it is on the field, the better your defense will perform. You aren’t coaching Oregon any more. You won’t be defeating these teams 49-0, like you did to Arizona last year. Each team has essentially the same level of talent.

Take a page from the New England, which almost broke the NFL record for total plays last year. Against the Buccaneers, their fastest scoring drive was 3:33, when they went 62 yards in 10 plays. That’s pretty fast. But the Patriots also slowed down, ESPECIALLY in the third and fourth quarters. An eight-play and a 10-play drive, each culminating in field goals, that took 4:15 and 4:44, respectively. A 10-play drive that took 4:41 to end the game.

As yourself this: what offense would you run if you had a lead and the ball late in the game? Then take that offense and run it every now and then during the second, third and early-fourth quarters. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Post NFL Week 2 Predictions

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Predictions on NFL Week 2 (based on the results of NFL Week 2)

Raise your hands if you believe Miami will be undefeated and tied with New England for first-place in the AFC East after two weeks.

Put your hand down, Colin Kaepernick.

One week after the AFC Kanye’s Kid goes 0-fer, the NFC East will go 0-fer.

For the second-straight week, the Bucs will lose on a last second field goal. Silver lining: this time, the offense will be to blame, not the defense!

Josh Freeman will have a bad week. First word will come out that he missed the team photo, then was not voted team captain and that he blames head coach Greg Schiano and will likely ask for a trade. Then he will show other teams what kind of quarterback he can be for them by going 9-of-22 for 125 yards. Somewhere, Tim Tebow is modeling the Tampa Bay uniform.

The Browns will muster a mere six points in a loss to the Ravens (who will muster a mere 14 points), and then will UPS starting running back Trent Richardson to the Colts.

The NFL will finally know what it means to be let down byCleveland, as it will no longer be able to use his clip in its commercial forFantasy Football.

Manning Bowl IV will be decisively won by Peyton and the Broncos. On the plus side for Eli and the Giants, they will find out that their problem is not David Wilson’s fumble-itis – it’s the whole offense!

For the second time in as many weeks, a night game on NBC will be delayed because of weather. For the second time in as many games between the two teams, the Seahawks will trounce the 49ers at home. For the second time, period, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be rendered ineffectual.

The Jaguars will rush for just 34 yards (on 19 carries) in a loss to the Raiders. They will be ranked 32nd (out of 32) in total offense. Somewhere, Tim Tebow is modeling the new Jacksonville uniform.

After week 2, a report will come out saying that the Jaguars were among four teams the NFL is looking at to move to Los Angeles. So THAT’S why Tebow was hanging out at USC!

After two weeks, the Steelers offense will be ranked 31st in the League, which will surprise everybody.

Reports will come out that Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley is not getting along with his offensive players, while will surprise nobody.

Andy Reid will avenge the sweep his Eagles suffered to the Cowboys last year by beating the Cowboys with his new team, the Chiefs. If Kansas City were in the NFC East, it would be in first place after week 2.

The Chargers will prove without a shadow of a doubt that the best defense is a good offense, as the Fighting Phillip Riverses will more than double Andy Reid’s former team (and week 3 matchup) in possession time (40:17 to 19:43), en route to victory.

To Philadelphia’s credit, the offense, in under 20 minutes of work, will score 30 points. Unfortunately, the defense, in over 40 minutes of work, will give up 33 points.

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)
Dear Chip Kelly,

You are a smart guy. You know football. Your teams at Oregon did very, very well, running and gunning teams right out of Phil Knight’s living room. It worked, because your athletes were better than most of the teams you faced, so even a tired Oregon defense was better than the rested offense of BeatenBy80Points University. You are trying to bring that fastpaced, no-huddle offense to the NFL. But there are two issues with this. One, all NFL teams have essentially the same level of talent (some just don’t know how to use said talent). Two, NFL players are not 18-22 year olds. Some of them are really, really old – like 35. So when your offense consistently gets on and off the field in under four minutes – your longest drive on Sunday was 3:41, a number San Diego surpassed on six separate drives – your defense is going to get tired. And this defense, with an average starting age of 25.1, is going to be mighty tired towards the end of games, especially when they’ve been on the field for 40 minutes. And in close games, if the other team’s defense is not as tired as yours, you can bet they’ll be better able to make at least one key stop – something your defense was unable to do against the Chargers. I’m not saying that you should change your offense, I’m saying you should mix it up. Go fast for two drives, then slow it down for a third. Go fast for a drive, then slow for the next two. You think your defense is tired now? Wait until the 14th, 15th and 16th games of the season – something you never had to deal with at college.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Post NFL Week 1 Predictions

Predictions on NFL Week 1 based on the results of NFL Week 1

Finally the NFL season will begin! No longer will fans have to read or hear about the perils of the sport and the dangers of concussions – now they will be able to see those perils and dangers, over and over and over again, for 17-straight weeks!

Huzzah!

A number of big games will open the season, and a number of statements will be made.

The Broncos will make the statement that Peyton Manning’s arm is just fine, thank you very much.

The Ravens will make the statement that perhaps in retrospect, Anquan Boldin was a fairly important piece of the offense and worth more than a sixth-round draft choice.

The Ravens receivers – all of them – will total 215 yards on 15 receptions, with one touchdown.

Anquan Boldin – by himself – will total 208 yards on 13 receptions, with one touchdown.

Neither of Baltimore’s sixth-round picks from the 2013 NFL Draft, OL Ryan Jensen (inactive-injury) and DL Kapron Lewis-Moore (Reserve/Non-Football Injury) will play a single down.

The defense that the Ravens were able to rebuild thanks to the $6 million they saved on Boldin’s contract will give up 49 points.

But other than that, the trade will work out perfectly for Baltimore. Eventually.

The Niners will hold off the Packers in a rematch from last year’s playoffs.

The Niners will make the statement that they remain a Super Bowl contender.

The Packers will make the statement that hey, we’re pretty good, but the Niners are excellent, and pretty good is not as good as excellent, even though it's pretty good.

After the game, Niners tight end Vernon Davis will say that he thanks God everyday for Boldin being on his team.

Now we will know – God isn’t Tim Tebow, He’s Trent Baalke, the 49ers General Manager! Good luck competing against that, rest of the NFL.

The Patriots will make a statement that they don’t need to bring back receivers who accounted for 192 receptions, 2,265 yards and 10 touchdowns last year; they will simply plug in new starters, watch them catch 17 balls for 183 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Bills, rinse, repeat.

The Bills will make a statement that they are still the Bills, doing Bills-like things with Bills-like frequency. A guess at what coach Doug Marrone will tell his team in the fourth quarter when they will be nursing a 21-17 lead:

“We’re going to stay with our no-huddle offense and snap the ball with 20 seconds remaining on the play clock on every play so that we can give the Patriots as much time as possible to come back and win this game!!”

This will be a lesson for us all, but mostly for the Pittsburgh Steelers: when the artist formerly known as Chris Johnson has more than double the rushing yards than you have as a team, it won’t be a good day for you.

Adrian Peterson's first carry of the game will be a statement that he absolutely should have been the No. 1 overall pick in every fantasy football draft.

Adrian Peterson's next 17 carries of the game will be statements that oh crap I shouldn't have drafted him first overall.

On a personal note, I HATE having the No. 1 overall pick. It's way too much pressure. I'd rather have No. 2, let some other schlub take Greg Oden first overall so that I can take Kevin Durant.

Eli Manning will kind of match his brother’s offensive output of seven touchdowns, in as much as Eli will have four touchdowns and three interceptions.

I did say “kind of.”

The Chargers, with their new head coach and coaching staff, will build a 28-7 third-quarter lead over the Texans.

The Texans will come all the way back to win, 31-28.

The more things change, the more they stay the same…


MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)

Dear Buffalo Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone,

The Patriots not only have a very good offense, they also have a very fast offense. Also, it’s very good. They’ve been using a no-huddle offense for a while now, long before you and Chip Kelly decided to come to the NFL to “innovate” the game. New England led the league in total offense in 2012; led the league in points per game in 2012; finished with a league-best 1,191 total plays from scrimmage, coming thisclose to breaking the all-time mark of 1,200; averaged 74.4 plays per game, best in the league; have Tom Brady as a quarterback.

SO WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT GIVING THIS TEAM MORE TIME IS A GOOD IDEA?!?!

I understand you have a young team with a rookie starting at qb. Perhaps you felt that this team wasn’t prepared to do anything but the no-huddle, hurry-up offense you’ve been working on. Which is more a knock on you than on your team – you didn’t think that there would come a time where you would have a lead in the fourth quarter and would need to bleed the clock? Did you really think that your offense, plus this young team with its rookie quarterback, would be good enough that you could get first down after first down and touchdown after touchdown?

You will say the right things after the game, that you let the team down, etc. But make sure you use this game for the learning experience that it is – no-huddle, fast-break, hurry-up offenses are great, until they’re not. Then you need the old smashmouth, grind out yards and minutes type of football that wins close games.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

rAil-ROaDed

I have a confession to make. For years, I have been feeling this…thing. I couldn’t nail down what it was for a long time, but I knew it was there, and I knew it was growing.

Now, I know what it is.

Sympathy for Alex Rodriguez.

I understand that I am in the minority, but I can’t help it. This sympathy was cemented by the raw deal Alex Rodriguez is getting from MLB and the Yankees. He is essentially getting the “third strike” penalty for what theoretically is his first offense, and there’s not a single teammate/coach/team official that is standing up to defend him.

It’s remarkable, really, how deafening the silence is when it comes to those who work with him coming to his defense.

By all accounts, all A-Rod ever wanted was to be the respected and looked up to by fans, teammates, coaches, etc. When it comes down to it, the guy just wanted to be loved. By everyone. Which makes it even sadder that he is probably the most disliked athlete* of all time.

(*not including those who committed murder or any other legitimately criminal act)

The biggest problem with A-Rod was, and always has been, A-Rod. The dude can’t get out of his own way. Everything he says and does seems so calculated that it comes off as phony. Maybe that’s just the way he is (like the sarcastic guy from the old Kids In The Hall sketch). I doubt anyone truly knows the real A-Rod. Heck, for that matter, I’m guessing A-Rod doesn’t even know the real A-Rod.

A-Rod wants to be a leader of men, but he doesn’t know how to lead. He wants to be liked by everyone, but he always ends up doing or saying something stupid that ends friendships.

He joined the Mariners at age 18 and played with Ken Griffey Jr., one of the most well-liked and respected players of all time. Even if you weren’t a fan of Seattle, you were a fan of Junior. What did Junior do better than most players of that time? Hit home runs. During A-Rod’s six years with the Mariners, the Kid knocked the ball out of the park 266 times, or an average of just over 44 per season. A-Rod averaged just under 36 home runs per season in the four full years he played with Griffey, Jr. The most home runs A-Rod hit with Seattle was 42, twice.

But no matter what he did in Seattle, A-Rod would never surpass Junior’s popularity. He even played one year with the Mariners after Griffey went on to Cincinnati, but probably realized that he had to go elsewhere to become The Man. So when Texas came calling with 252 million dollars – and what better way to show a guy he’s wanted/loved than a billion-gazillion bucks – Rodriguez must have seen this as his opportunity to become like Griffey, Jr. Obviously, Texas wanted him (that whole billion-gazillion bucks thing), and if he starts hitting home runs at a prodigious rate, he will be worth the contract and Rangers fans will love him and the rest of baseball and America will come around. Since I’ve never dealt with that level of internal/external pressure, I don’t know if I would take steroids or not, so how can I fault the guy for making that decision?

Three years and three last-place finishes later, A-Rod was reviled by media and fans and at the same time called the best player in baseball. It was during this time that he made seemingly critical comments of Derek Jeter, who had been his good friend, when he told Esquire magazine in 2001 that "Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him" and "he's never had to lead."

From A-Rod’s perspective, the guy whose career-best in home runs was 24 was not a leader. Leaders hit home runs, like Griffey, Jr. So he wasn’t being critical of Jeter, per se, as much as he just didn’t understand what made a leader (or, apparently, how friends are supposed to talk about each other).

When A-Rod went to the Yankees, this was his chance to prove himself to be a leader, to show he could take his team to the World Series and beyond. Sure, he was twice named MVP with New York, sure he received a 10-year, 275-million dollar contract, but name the big play he made in the postseason that proved to be the difference between champs and chumps.

No matter what he did, A-Rod was the chump, Jeter was the champ. Again, the pressure must have been ridiculous. A-Rod so badly wanted to be the best, to be loved, that he felt he needed that extra something* to get there.

(*-steroids. Lots of them.)

A-Rod couldn’t even win off the field. Here he is, married father of two, while Derek Jeter is dating starlet after starlet to little or no criticism…so A-Rod leaves his wife and dates, among others, Madonna and Cameron Diaz. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, WHAT’S A GUY GOTTA DO TO GET PEOPLE TO LOVE HIM?!?!

What I can't understand is what did A-Rod (211-game suspension) do that was so different from Ryan Braun (65 game suspension)? Braun had already tested positive for a banned substance, but got off on a technicality. A-Rod previously admitted to using and had tested positive in 2003, when there were no penalties for a positive test at that time. So based on MLB’s rules, shouldn’t A-Rod have been hit with a 50-game suspension? There were rumors that MLB offered A-Rod a 50-game suspension but he turned it down, so perhaps the 211-game ban was MLB’s first offer in what they realized would be a back-and-forth until they came to a mutually agreed upon suspension. But it still seems unfair, and this is coming from someone who has NEVER defended Alex Rodriguez.

On some karmic level A-Rod is probably getting what he deserves. But this seems like a specially designed level of hell for him. He wants to be The Man, but a) when he was The Man his team finished in last-place each year; 2) he played with three of The Men in Griffey, Jr., Jeter and Mariano Rivera without ever figuring out their secret in becoming The Men.

In the end, the guy who just wants to be loved by everyone can’t find a single person (except those he keeps on retainer) to step up to the plate and defend him. That’s gotta sting a little.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don't Sext While You Run (for office)

Anthony Weiner has a problem. No, not that he’s a serial sexter. That’s his fetish, and it’s weird, but most fetishes are.
 
Weiner’s problem is that we don’t understand his fetish. There are no shortages of politicians who cheat on their spouses, and while we think of them as creepy and slime, we have a tendency to look past it when we consider them for office. We get cheating. We may not like it, but we understand it.
 
But sending pictures of your naked body to strangers and getting off on that? Well, that’s just plain weird. So because we don’t understand it, Anthony Weiner is thought of as slimier than someone who has cheated on their spouse, even though by all accounts Weiner never actually cheated on Huma. Sure, he took pictures of his naked body and sent it to women, and sure he probably was not master of his own domain while doing so, but as far as we know he has only had sex-sex (Copyright Whoopi Goldberg) with Huma since they got together.
 
In terms of his political career, Weiner would have been better off just cheating on Huma like a normal politician. We’re not good with strange fetishes. Heck, we’re not really good with fetishes. If we don’t get it, it must be weird, and if it’s weird, it’s definitely not for us.
 
But why is his fetish so strange? He’s not cheating on his wife - for all we knew, maybe she was aware that he was into this kind of thing and was fine with it as long as he never took it to the next level. 
 
I don’t necessarily have a problem with Weiner’s sexting. I think it’s strange, because I don’t see the appeal, but hey to each his or her own. My issue with Weiner is the fact that he was dumb enough to get caught. Twice. The first time he gets caught you chalk it up to a combination of bad luck and bad decisions. But to make those bad decisions a second time, while you’re running for office…THAT is why he shouldn’t be mayor. His judgment skills are obviously shot. 
 
I listened to the Sydney Leathers interview on the Stern Show today, and she (to me at least) comes off as someone who was looking for fame. She said she leaked the pictures Weiner sent her because she felt he wasn’t being honest with New Yorkers and that someone else leaked her name to the press. That second part may be true, but once her name was leaked she couldn’t jump on that fame bandwagon fast enough! 
 
I don’t mind that she did that; totally her right, and he was dumb enough (again) to believe that his pics would never surface (again). But the fact that she was willing to sext with a complete stranger, someone she never met face to face…that should have been enough for Weiner to know she wasn’t the girl to sext with. 
 
So Anthony Weiner has a choice he has to make. Either he continues to run for public office and goes to therapy 14 times a week to keep himself away from sexting, then reverts back to his sexting ways the minute he’s out of office or out of the running, or he continues his sexting ways as a private citizen. Because unfortunately, the way most people feel about this whole “sexting" thing, he can’t have it both ways. 
 
So basically it’s not him, it’s us. But also a little bit him.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Devil's Second Greatest Trick

Recently, many people have inferred (or said outright), that Nick Saban is the devil. They are wrong, however; he is not the devil, but he did, at one point in his career, work for the devil. And the devil just played his second greatest trick: he signed Tim Tebow to the New England Patriots.

Make no mistake, Bill Belichick did not sign Tebow as a publicity stunt (see Jets, New York). This was a football move, pure and simple. Belichick is always looking for football players, and Tebow is the quintessential football player.

From a football perspective, the move makes sense for both parties. The Patriots get a guy who will do whatever is asked of him, play whatever position is asked of him and work as hard, if not harder, than anyone else. Tebow will be able to learn how to be a better quarterback from Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels, he'll be able to play a variety of positions while learning the offensive system, and most importantly, he will not be looked at as a savior or the key to the team's success.

There were many connections prior to Belichick's signing of Tebow.

One, Belichick has long had an appreciation for everything Urban Meyer, and Tebow is as close to Meyer as Belichick will get in a football player. Tebow knows the Meyer spread option offense inside and out and can help McDaniels and Belichick develop plays within that system.

Two, McDaniels originally drafted Tebow as the head coach of Denver, even moving up to the bottom of the first round to get him. Sadly, McDaniels was never able to complete his project of turning Tebow into a viable NFL quarterback, although his successor, John Fox, was able to use Tebow and a version of the spread option to take the Broncos to the 2011 playoffs, defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime in the first round before falling to the Patriots.

Three, Belichick has reunited Tebow with his favorite target from their days at Florida: tight end Aaron Hernandez. They played the "goal-line-Tebow-run-up-the-middle-whoops-no-wait-it's-a-jump-pass" play with the Gators, at least giving the Patriots the option to use it, even just as a decoy, in goal line situations.

Finally, there is precedence of Belichick taking a relatively unused player from an AFC East team and turning him into a key contributor (see Welker, Wes and Woodhead, Danny).

Wes Welker with the Dolphins: 2 seasons, 48.0 rec, 560.5 yds, 0.5 tds
Wes Welker with the Patriots: 6 seasons, 112.0 rec, 1,243.2 yds, 6.2 tds

Danny Woodhead with the Jets: 1 season, 15 runs, 64 yds, 0 tds, 8 rec, 87 yds, 0 tds
Danny Woodhead with the Patriots: 3 seasons, 83.3 runs, 399.7 yds, 3.3 tds, 30.7 rec, 327.3 yds, 4 tds

So if history is any indication, Tebow should be an effective player for the Patriots. Certainly much more effective than he was for the Jets. (Who will face the Patriots on Sept. 12, a Thursday night game to kick off week two - gee I wonder what ESPN First Take will discuss on Sept. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16…)

Because when it comes to player personnel, Belichick always makes the right decision (see Ochocinco, Chad. Actually, don’t.).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My 'Dear Jack' Letter to the Golden State Warriors

Dear GS,

Now that the NBA season is all about wrapped up (Heat in six), I feel it's time to come clean about something. I've been living a bit of a lie this entire season, and it's been eating away at me. Not that I've lost sleep, or weight, or anything like that - heck, I really don't even think about it that often. But eating at me nonetheless.

You see, before the season, I was ready to give up on you. I had decided that enough was enough, that I wanted a new team to follow. I wanted a team that cared about my feelings, a team that listened and most important, a team that looked good. I mean won games. I wanted a winner.

I even had my new team picked out. I couldn't go with the Heat, because, well the Decision notwithstanding, it's just too much fun to root against them (and get disappointed when they succeed). So I went with the team that couldn't handle the Heat and had to get out of the kitchen - the Oklahoma City Thunder. What a team! Young, good looking talented, plays hard...and it couldn't be considered band-wagon jumping because they lost in the finals. To be a band-wagon jumper means you are jumping on the wagon of the winner, and the Thunder were the losers (those are the rules, I didn't make 'em up).

To be fair, you shouldn't be surprised - I left the Knicks for you! In 2001-02, New York was a shell of its former self, having sent away all of the players I had grown to love (including my favorite player of all time, John Starks, who went to you and, I was delighted to hear from some of your staffers, was a super nice guy). Sure, they had Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston, but it just wasn't the same any more, especially after Jeff Van Gundy left midway through the year, probably because of me. Frankly, my fanship (fandom? fanness?) of the Knicks started its downward spiral when I made the mistake of going to a Knicks-Raptors game (I believe in 1999) and discovered that these "blue collar fans" I had heard so much about were nothing more than a bunch of slicked-back hair guys in suits who spent 97.8 percent of the game on their cell phones, and MSG kinda stunk as an arena.

So I was in the market for a new team. It seemed like kismet. I had just started working for you; you had just put together a seemingly excellent draft class of Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy and Gilbert Arenas to team up with a seemingly excellent blend of veterans (Mookie Blaylock, Adonal Foyle, Erick Dampier) and role players (Marc (not Mark) Jackson, Danny Fortson) along with a seemingly star player (Antawn Jamison). The next year you brought in a young, seemingly excellent head coach in Eric Musselman. The crowds always showed up in force and they all seemed genuinely into the games. I was hooked.

But then the losing started. Musselman was canned after two solid, if unspectacular seasons (unwarranted, in my opinion). Seemingly excellent college coach Mike Montgomery was brought in from Stanford and was nowhere near seemingly OR excellent in the NBA, winning 68 games in his two seasons. You re-brought in seemingly Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson, who had an ok season (42-40) with an excellent playoffs run (upset top-seed Dallas in six, lost to Utah in five), followed by a good season (48-34) with a ninth-place finish in the standings, followed by a return to your losing ways, winning just 55 games over the next two seasons, followed by 36 in 2010-11 with new head coach Keith Smart.

So forgive my lack of faith when, before the 2011-12 season, you hired Mark (not Marc) Jackson, who had not one, not two but ZERO years experience coaching, to be your HEAD coach. You drafted Stephen Curry (good) who played the exact same role as Monta Ellis (bad), who never met a shot he didn't like (worse), even though he was a much poorer shooter than Curry (worst).

So I was ready to move on. I was frustrated with the decisions you had made with coaching, drafting, free agencing...I had had enough. And since I wasn't band-wagon jumping to the winner, it didn't make it band-wagon jumping, so my conscience was appeased.

But then something happened. The Oklahoma City Thunder made a move that stunned me - they traded their third-best player for a bunch of role players, because apparently their billionaire owner couldn't afford his salary (according to many, this particular third-best player looks like me, albeit with a beard and a different skin color. Other than that - we're like twins). Suddenly it hit me - all NBA teams are the same. None of them really take into account the fans and how they would react to signings, draftings, trade-ings, etc. Which is not to say that teams should use local sports radio callers as part of their decision-making staff - far from it. But why would OKC send off its third-best player the summer after going to the Finals? Did they not care that the fans would be upset about this?

So I decided not to leave you, to give you one more chance and stick it out with you for at least one more year.

And you know what? I'm glad I did. You traded Monta Ellis; you put together a team with size and skill inside (David Lee, Andrew Bogut), youth and athleticism (Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green), veteran toughness (Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack) and a seemingly superstar (Curry). They all seem to have bought into Jackson's coaching, and he does a good job of pushing them to play at least some defense, while allowing them to play the offense that is best suited to their skills. You defeated the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs and essentially sent the 2013 Coach of the Year packing. You played the Spurs as tough as anyone in the West did, losing in six after they swept the Lakers and before they swept the Grizzlies.

So I'm in. You are fun to watch and I can't wait to see what this group of good looking players will do next year.

I mean talented. Talented players.