Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Preseason NFL Power Groupings... Let the Fun Begin!!

Colin and I detest the whole Power Rankings setup... it is generally an excuse for Petey King and Petey Prisco to put the Hawks down after Miami and New England. Especially so early in the year it is a fairly stupid and pointless proposition. That's why we've decided to forgo specific slots in terms of the groups Colin outlined on Friday. So to us there's literally no difference between San Francisco and Green Bay. They both have as much chance of going to the postseason as Colin does of finding anyone who respects his chosen occupation.

This first group of complete ineptitude is the No F'in Way group, and I am pleased to present the first of our month long preview counting down to opening day (by the way, I am so friggin' excited about this season I'm already breaking out in chills even thinking about it... and that's getting ready to write about this team).

So... yeah... the San Francisco 49ers. Let's get jiggy.

2005 Record: 4-12
Points For: 239
Points Against: 428

The first, and obvious, statement about the 49ers is that their offense was absolutely dreadful. If we are going from a baseball Pythagorean method, the "run" differential of -189 was the worst in the entire league, even worse than the pathetic Texans.

Points For and Points Against are interesting statistics to look at in the NFL, but only as a first indicator. For example, say the 49ers had an awful offense (which they did, as we will continue to look at during this preview). That means they gave up a lot of turnovers (which they did, a whopping 27 of them) and had terrible time of possession (which they did, a putrid 27:18). In fact, the 49ers only even ran 865 total plays, 70 worse than the next team in the NFL (the Chicago Bears). Think about the number of additional opportunities that complete ineffectiveness grants to an opposing offense. Thus the Points Against differential, while bad, should be taken in light of the offense, and so any improvement the 49ers see in the standings has to be in the light of the offense. Even a middle of the pack group makes the 49ers a 7-8 win team and in the quick 16 game season of the NFL, a few breaks can make a surprise group. Unfortunately, the Niner offense does not have the tools this year to have a jump like that.

All in all, I think you could make a fairly simple statistical argument for the fact that the San Francisco 49ers were the worst team in the NFL last year and were burned to draft as late as they did (i.e. Vernon Davis << Reggie Bush).

Editor's Note: Football Outsiders is currently down, so I won't be able to provide DVOA numbers for each position, so my apologies.

Offense:
As I wrote above, this was a year to forget for the San Francisco faithful. What can be done to right the ship? Well, it will definitely have to start with...

Quarterback: Alex Smith
Backup: Trent Dilfer
I have to give this to the Niner brass, the pickup of Trent Dilfer was the best they made all offseason. As we are well aware in Seattle, Dilfer is the prototypical backup quarterback, and we could definitely use him back here (see atypically reasonable Steve Kelley article today). Alex Smith was an overrated quarterback in an interesting collegiate Utah offense, and was part of a weak quarterback class (before the draft, both Colin and I wrote how Smith would be the 4th best quarterback in a normal draft... and then were proved right this year, as Leinart/Young/Cutler were all better talent). Now the 49ers are stuck with a giant question mark. Smith is talented, but is he at all ready to handle the type of consistent pass rush, and make good reads to questionable talent? In fact, will anyone ever get a true read on his talent while he is completely surrounded by mediocrity? I don't buy the "small hands" crap. That sounds like a made-up excuse by some overpaid hack like Petey Prisco.

Here's what it comes down to for me... even bad quarterbacks have more than one TD in 9 games. Even bad talent should be able to get a few tosses into the end zone (see: Michael Vick). So Smith has the fortitude of Joey Harrington with the accuracy of Vick (only a paltry 50% completion percentage). Not a good mix. I don't know if there was a single bright spot to be found out of that campaign. I would be quite concerned if I was a member of the 49er brass. Rookie QBs with talent have mental issues, lapses in judgement, but display undeniable talent. Even Matt Hasselbeck during the "Mike Holmgren is yelling at me again" years showed he had skills. Can Smith turn it around? Of course. Does it seem likely? Nope. At this point he is the equivalent of drafting a young starting pitcher who can throw 100 mph but doesn't have a good breaking pitch and misses the strike zone.

Running Back: Frank Gore
Backup: Kevan Barlow

I'm putting Gore here because I sure hope Mike Nolan isn't stupid enough to start Barlow again. Barlow was, to put it bluntly, godawful. An anorexic panda could have run better. Remember how I hate the whole yards per carry stat, especially when used to make Willie Parker look like the second coming of Jim Brown? Well, when your average is at 3.3 ypc, there is no argument from me. That's just bad. When your LONG for the year is 24 yards, that moves into awful range. At least Gore is young and has "upside". At least he can do better than 3.3 ypc. Also, Gore outgained Barlow with 50 fewer carries. He's a possible 1000 yard back (and an interesting fantasy sleeper). This is the most important part of getting that time of possession number back in the right direction. The running game has to be established. They can do it, against the Hawks last year they almost pulled out the upset because of that running game. Gore does need to get involved in the passing game (only 15 receptions last season) in order to give Smith another safety valve while the line breaks down yet again.

Speaking of the offensive line...

O-line

When you're getting excited about adding The Player Formerly Known As Larry Brown you have some issues. When you're lamenting the loss of signing Chris Gray a year later you have some issues.

There are a pair of statistics I look at when determining the quality of the offensive line. 3rd down conversion rate and 4th down conversion rate. Seattle makes all of these because Shaun Alexander (properly motivated) only needed to run to where the line had already pushed the pile to pick up the last couple of yards. They also gave Matt Hasselbeck enough time in the pocket to make the correct read and for the receiver to make his break. The 49ers? Not so good...

3rd Down Rate: 24%
4th Down Rate: 5 of 8

San Francisco didn't even go for it much on 4th down, knowing it was already over. That 3rd down rate is simply abysmal and indicative of serious problems in the trenches.

There is one bright spot about this group. San Francisco was only penalized for 780 yards, 3rd best in the NFC behind Dallas and Carolina. That's actually impressive, but shows Mike Nolan has a decent coaching staff (even if the offensive coordinator than split for Green Bay).

Wide Receivers/TE

Much has been made about the addition to the team of Vernon Davis. I am still ruefully shaking my head about the decision to make him the highest paid TE in the entire league. What exactly did Davis do in college to warrant this uber-hype? It's almost like seeing another Jeremy Shockey or Kellen Winslow enter the league... oh... wait... we know how THAT turns out. If I was San Francisco, I would have been satisfied to have Eric Johnson, him of the 80+ catch year in 2004. That seems like a quality TE, and having two at the same time doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of opposing defensive coordinators.

San Francisco Fan: Yeah, we have Vernon Davis and Eric Johnson!
Defensive Coordinator: Yeah, I have two players I can cover with linebackers and safeties!

Much has also been made about the addition of Antonio Bryant. When you have an offseason like San Francisco, I guess you find excitement where you can find it, but if you genuinely believe Bryant is a #1 receiver, you have been spending way too much time on Hippie Hill (visited there a week back, not a big enough drum circle). Yes, he had 1000 yards. Yippee. He'll probably have 1000 yards again this year, because there is literally no one worthy of an NFL roster spot behind him. If he's such an incredible deep threat, how come he only had two receptions over 40 yards? Hmmm? Look, he's not a bad addition, but when that comes at the same time you're losing Brandon Lloyd, you're simply replacing similar talent. When your roster has as many holes as does San Francisco's, replacements don't exactly help.

Dang. This is getting long. I think Colin and I have missed the football season.

Defense

Defensive previews are always a big tougher, as there are fewer individual statistics to look at and review. It is a much better team effort (defensive tackles plug the line so linebackers can run free etc). As I wrote above, the fact the 49ers allowed so many points was partially due to the defense having to be on the field so much each time out and in such lousy field position. Still, they weren't exactly... say... good, like the 1992 Seahawks defense.

Against the Run:

The 49ers had a fairly respectable 3.8 ypc average against the run. If I had time, I would do research to see how many "burn out the clock" runs were a part of that, but that would take going through the play-by-play of 16 games to adjust the average. Let's just say I find the above statistic a little hard to believe, when you are losing so many games you have teams who simply quit passing and so you have to play the run. They did have some success against the Hawks in SF, but we ran through them like butter at home in that boring rout. When you have a playmaker like Julian Peterson, you have a better chance, but when you lose him in favor of yet ANOTHER North Carolina St rookie (Manny Lawson) it becomes a bigger question mark. Remember, Bryant Young had an insane year at his age and is only getting older. In fact, throughout this whole defense there isn't one player I would pick as a "star" or even an "almost star". At least we can say that San Francisco isn't awful against the run. They're mediocre.

Against the Pass:

Back to awful. Get this. The 49ers allowed a 64.9% completion percentage and averaged 276.7 yards per game. That's like facing a relaxed Peyton Manning each week. And you wonder why this team was 4-12. Those numbers are actually stunning in how bad they are.

How do you improve that? By making almost zero changes to the personnel. That's some serious faith Mike Nolan has in his team... and I would say misguided. How do you get to be that bad? I'm sure some of it goes to the poor defensive line efforts (not getting to the QB enough), but sheesh, some talent evaluator deserves a pink slip.

I don't think I can even write more about that. It speaks for itself. This was abysmal. It will be abysmal. Go hope.

Special Teams:

K Mike Nedney is really good. Who cares?

Look, the 49ers are going to be a bad team. There is no reason to expect much more out of Alex Smith for any reason other than he can't be worse. There is no reason to expect the pass defense to improve whatsoever. Another TE, a similar WR, and an aging guard will not improve this team enough. I wouldn't be surprised if they slid back to 2 wins.

To all those hopeful commentors on Football Outsiders. You are insane. Go away.

posted by Gavin @ 1:26 PM  1 comments

I'm..... Entertained?

Before I jump into your regularly scheduled topic, I must gush a bit more at Tim Ruskell for getting CB Kelly Jennings signed and into camp. It is pretty much HUGELY important for rookies to get all the camp time they can, and even MORE important for a position such as cornerback, where potential star players routinely struggle in their first year.

Antrel Rolle? Check.
Pacman Jones? Check.
Ken Lucas? Check.
Marcus Trufant? Check.

It takes a while for cornerbacks to adjust to the faster, more physical wide receivers of the NFL, as well as the more accurate routes being run and the more accurate balls being thrown (except if your quarterback happens to be Aaron Brooks or Mike Vick). Entire game plans are drawn up around picking on the rookie.

THIS IS OUR GLARING WEAKNESS RIGHT NOW AS CAMP BEGINS....

Let there be no mistake about it. Our coverage team, as it stands, has multiple question marks in a division that THRIVES on throwing the football. THRIVES.

The Arizona Cardinals? The NUMBER ONE passing attack in the NFL last year. NUMBER ONE. That's better than the Colts, better than the Broncos, better than the Rams, better than the Seahawks. That is with Kurt Warner at quarterback and ZERO running game. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are special players (not special as in Isaiah K. "what a cool story" players, or special as in Pete Prisco), and Matt Leinart and Leonard Pope are awesome additions to their arsenal. The St. Louis Rams still have Torry Holt, who is the man. Perhaps the best wide receiver in the game today, though he doesn't open his mouth enough to be considered the best receiver, aka Chad Johnson or T.O.

As for the 49ers? Well, much ink will be wasted on the coming emergence of Alex Smith and the vaunted San Francisco passing game. Antonio Bryant! Yes! Not too worried about that. Yet.

Still, we combat those divisional foe's strengths with a "star" cornerback who reguarly allows big plays (Trufant), a rookie cornerback (Jennings), a poor to decent cornerback (Herndon), a safety coming off a life threatening head injury (Hamlin), and another safety still learning his position, which cost us with the Willie Parker run in the Super Bowl (Boulware).

This is a problem, a problem that would have been solved with an open checkbook thrown in the direction of Ty Law, who is overrated (no longer a shut down corner), but would have given our secondary stability. Not sure what Ruskell was thinking there. Seriously, I love Ruskell, but let's face it. His sophomore offseason was not quite the gleaming jewel of the previous offseason. Not franchising Hutch was a huge, whopping huge mistake (which, by the way, I caught immediately and Gavin made fun of me for being a whiny puss), and there should have been more attention paid to the secondary. Don't get me wrong. This wasn't a disastrous offseason by any means. It just wasn't super-awesome.

Wow. That took a little longer than I thought. Bottom line. Jennings is in camp, which should be seen as a HUGE deal to Seahawks fans, due to the fact that this is the SINGLE rookie perhaps fighting for a starting role at a position that is notoriously hard to learn. Again, big deal here.

When I sat down to write, however, my initial thoughts were with the Seattle Mariners, fresh off one horrific game and two exciting games with the Cleveland Indians (who, by the way, have to be my pick for most disappointing team in the majors). This series caused me to think back to the last three years of watching this ballclub.

In April of 2004 I was freshly married, with a full-time job, and planning to move from Spokane (armpit of the West) to Phoenix (what hell would be like if Satan didn't have air conditioning) to start grad school (and never work again). Thus, I didn't have too much time to watch the Mariners, and what I DID see was some of the least exciting and interesting baseball of my life. There was ZERO energy on the field (until September and Ichiro). Edgar looked like he needed a Red Bull. Olerud looked dead, as in his body was actually deceased but his mind hadn't caught up to that fact yet. Winn looked asleep, like he always did. Spaz looked stoned, Aurilia looked like a deer in headlights (guess the NL isn't as good, eh?), and Hasegawa looked like he'd much rather be back in Japan.

It wasn't, at all, fun to watch. That group wasn't just a losing ballclub, they were a losing ballclub with no hope and no energy. There was almost no reason to watch them.

Still, Gavin and I held out our optimism and declared 2004 a hiccup, a mere blip in our run of winning seasons. Surely 2005 would prove us right!

...........

Again, 2005 started off as 2004 left off, except with a few new players taking the roles of sucking, like Beltre, Pineiro, Sele, Nelson, and Boone. Again, it was difficult to watch. There was no offense, the pitching would only stop the other team through sheer luck, and even Ichiro looked like he wanted to quit for the rest of the season.

Suddenly, up came Felix. Finally, a reason to watch Mariners baseball! He didn't disappoint, stunning us all with his two month run. Jose Lopez was up. Betancourt was up. Boone was gone. Olivo was gone. There was a faint glimmer of hope for the future, though, again, the M's were mostly only watchable when Felix was pitching.

Unfortunately, even THAT was taken from us at the beginning of the season, as Felix turned surprisingly mortal, allowing young pitchers like Verlander and Liriano to far outshine him. Sure, Lopez decided to become awesome, but that wasn't fully enough to make the M's entertaining, especially when Guardado had fallen apart.

Now? Now it's different, win or lose. There is a different feeling watching Mariners baseball to me right now. I actually (gasp!) enjoy watching these guys. Now, it's not like I didn't watch them before, no, it's either that or do something boring with the wife, like knit. It's just that now I don't read while half-watching. I wait to see which Mariner will do something kewl. Will it be Lopez at the plate? Betancourt in the field? Johjima? Ichiro? Ibanez? Putz? Lowe?

The majority of players on this team are actual good players now! And, for the most part, they are young, good, and hungry. They aren't bored with the game, as Edgar and Olerud looked. They aren't surprised that it's harder to hit the ball without steroids, as Boone and Spaz looked.

No, for the first time in three years, I am being entertained by Mariners baseball. And I love it.

P.S. No, I don't believe they are a playoff team.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:53 AM  0 comments

Friday, July 28, 2006

NFL: The Addiction Returns

Starting tomorrow, Cheney, WA, becomes not just home to the worst university in the state as well as a piss-poor attempt at maintaining a livable community. Yes, the Seattle Seahawks descend on Cheney in a futile attempt to create a winning atmosphere in the area.

This heralds the return of the NFL to my daily experience of living and breathing, which also heralds the return of my wife muttering curses under her breath every Sunday as she does various chores around the house while I sit on my duff and watch Houston vs. Philadelphia.

Fortunately for us, who better to answer everyone's questions about the upcoming season than the premier Seattle sports columnist (as well as one snappy dresser), Steve Kelley!

Take it away, Steve!

Can the Hawks make it back to the Super Bowl this year? — Dean Johnson, Shelton

Steve Kelley: If you're asking me to make a prediction - remembering that I'm never right - I would guess the Hawks lose to Carolina in the NFC Championship game. Which means they've had another successful season. Everything broke perfectly for them last season until that Sunday in Detroit. They certainly have the talent to get back there. They have the toughness. They have linebacker Julian Peterson, an ingredient they didn't have last season. But it's such a long way from here to Miami and Super Bowl XLI. So much can go wrong. The secret as a fan is to enjoy the ride.

An actual answer, and not a bad one at that. Picking Carolina is a reasonable pick, even after we destroyed them last postseason. Steve's also right that I would consider that to be a successful season. I'm not a Yankees fan, where it's do or die. I'm a Seahawks fan. Before last year, a successful season was a wildcard berth and a 1st round exit.

Last year at this time I thought Holmgren should be fired and the defense was going to stink because it was made up of rookies and rejects. This year the team looks great. I look at the schedule and drool - I see four games that we may have trouble in and expect to lose one on top of that. Am I being an idiot again? And if so, what am I missing? — Steve, Kent

Welcome to my world, Steve. That's the beauty and the beast of sports. I think two-thirds of Seattle thought Holmgren should have been fired. Now they want him to be their neighbor. I don't think any of us knew how good GM Tim Ruskell was. His job last season reminds me of the job Mariners GM Pat Gillick did in 2001. Ruskell has a great eye for talent and an obvious plan for putting a team together. As for us being idiots again, let's talk in January.

Another reasonable answer. I actually blogged after the Washington game that this was it for Holmgren (remember his atrocious, Hargrove-ian calls towards the end of that game? As for Gillick's job in 2001, the difference is that Gillick did it by mortgaging the future and blind luck (like Franklin being awesome, Pineiro being awesome, etc.). Ruskell didn't mortage any future in building last year's team, and he continued that trend this offseason, not overpaying for Ty Law.

The secondary seems to be the only chink in the Seattle armor. Steve, do you feel that Hamlin is healthy enough, and do you think that Kelly Jennings will contribute enough to put this defense over the edge and into the top 10? — Jason Meyer, Sacramento

Every day at mini-camp when Kelly Jennings walked off the field, all of the people standing around, including many ex-NFL players, looked at him and said, "Man, he's tiny." So there is reason to be concerned. As for Hamlin, I don't think he knows yet. And he's not going to get many chances in the exhibition season to test is health. I'd be scared to death to play football again if I were him. But he's tough and just like Nate Burleson is the key to the offense, l think Hamlin is the key to the defense. And just like Joe Jurevicius' absence will be felt on offense, the absence of safety Marquand Manuel will be felt equally as much on defense.

Is this seriously Kelley? His only idiotic claim in this paragraph is that Marquand Manuel will be seriously missed (say hello to Mike Brown, Seattle!). The secondary is a major source of concern (not THE major source of concern, as our special teams really need to improve as well), and the longer Jennings holds out, the lower my expectations go. Rookie cornerbacks do not normally succeed in the NFL, and we play against some amazing passing offenses (St. Louis, Arizona, NY Giants, etc.).

Is D.J. Hackett ready to be a No. 1 receiver? He may have to be if Darrell Jackson's recent problems with staying on the field continue. I think Hackett is ready - do you and the Hawks? — David Spencer, Mercer Island

There are days when Hackett looks ready and days when you wonder if it's ever going to happen. He has the size and speed, but there are serious questions about his ability to play through injuries. And as one coach said last year, we're going to find the answer. So Hackett looks like the season's biggest question mark on a receiving corps full of question marks.

I highlight this question just for the sheer idiocy of the question. No, Hackett is not a #1 receiver. He never will be. At best, he will be another Bobby Engram. Second, I wouldn't call him the corp's biggest question mark. Let that tag go to Peter Warrick, an individual who oozes talent and could become a real playmaker this year.

Now, fun aside (and real props to Kelley for writing non-tripe for the most part), the point of this post was to put forward our schedule for previewing all 32 teams. Some places go by divisions (we did last year), and others go by power rankings. Both are good, but don't really highlight the goals of every NFL team. This is, of course, to be one of the 12 teams that gain entry to the NFL postseason. The beauty of the NFL is that the majority of teams start out the season with real optimism that this could be the year. However, a few teams do not have any shot at all of reaching the postseason.

Thus, first Gavin and I will unveil the three teams we believe have absolutely no shot of reaching the postseason this year (this will be the No F'ing Way group). Next, we will unveil the 12 teams that have a small possibility of reaching the postseason (this will be named the Only One Pig Will Need to Fly group). We have designated 11 teams as having a high probability of making the postseason (the On the Cusp group). Finally, 6 teams are sure bets of reaching the postseason (or it would take a miracle, or a rash of severe injuries, for this team not to make it to the postseason (the Championship Caliber group).

Basically, we believe that 9-10 postseason teams will originate out of our final two groupings, with the last 2-3 being the year's cute surprise teams (like the Bears last year).

If you disagree with us, tell us why! Drop us a line, and Gavin will only make fun of you a little (though if you are disagreeing with me, then Gavin will probably agree with you).

I can't wait! Go Hawks!

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:25 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

Colin's got the real posts (i.e. the ones you should actually read) later today, but there were a few bits of random idiocy I found trolling through the sports sites I thought I'd point out.

The first has to be this trade of Carlos Lee and prospect to the Rangers for Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, Francisco Cordero and prospect. Let's think about this for a second. The Rangers need pitching. Every day they need pitching. Every waking thought of theirs should be to use their tradeable assets for pitching. So they go out and get Carlos Lee. Look, Carlos Lee is a doggone good hitter, although he's going from a bandbox to a bandbox so I wouldn't assume his power numbers would go up too much. He's also a free agent at the end of the season with absolutely zero guarantee he'll be around later. And the Rangers need pitching.

So yes, Ranger fans, you now have a lineup that include Lee, Young, Blaylock and Teixeira. How exactly is that different from last year, except Teixeira was hitting far better and you substituted Alfonso Soriano for Lee? Yes, Cordero blew some saves, but he also was a legitimate closer for a pair of years. The chance of him rediscovering his ability is greater than a minor leaguer coming up and duplicating it. Kevin Mench was the Rangers' best chance at packaging talent for a good SP. Now he's gone.

If you're a Brewer fan, you have to be excited to have landed a good bat and good arm for someone who was probably going to leave at the end of the season. With the problems Derrick Turnbow's had recently, bringing in Cordero is going to help the bullpen tremendously.

All in all, this is not something that should worry M's fans too much.

On to idiocy #2... NFL Style... where the San Francisco 49ers prove yet again why they are going to absolutely suck for years by making unproven rookie TE Vernon Davis the #1 paid TE in the league. That's right... because Davis ran fast in the combine the 49ers have determined his worth greater than Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez. Begin eye rolling in three... two... one...

I simply can't understand the logic behind this. Not only does this put yet another wedge at the good TE the 49ers ALREADY had in Eric Johnson, it invests far too much money in an unproven player in a relatively unimportant position (comparatively to QB, RB, LT etc). This is what happens when the GM equivalent of Woody Woodward takes over an NFL franchise. Terrible, horrible deals. The 49ers will regret this, and every team who has to negotiate with TEs (like us with Jerramy Stevens) will hate them for it.

Idiocy #3... Willie Roaf retires from the Kansas City Chiefs right before training camp. What exactly happened to Roaf to make this decision now? Did Chiefs management insult his mother? This kills the chances (already slim) of the Chiefs making the postseason and makes Colin and I feel much better for where we put them in our Power Groupings (to be revealed approximately whenever Colin gets off his fat duff). This means Kyle Turley will probably start. It's difficult to even write that without my brain feeling the urge to flee.

Final Idiocy, courtesy of Registered Supreme Idiot #482 Clark Judge, in reference to the Philadelphia Eagle.

"The Eagles allowed 113 first-quarter points. Nobody was worse. They also allowed six opponents to score on their first possessions. That's not good. Their 113-62 first-quarter imbalance ranked third from last in the league, and, pardon me, but you don't need an MBA to figure out where all of this leads. You pass. You pass because you have no other choice. When you're behind, the quickest way to make up ground is to throw the ball, and the Eagles did ... a team-record 620 times."

(Deep Breath)

If you go down in the first quarter and resort to throwing the ball, you are a moron. A stupid bleep of a moron. You have a choice. You stick to the offensive game plan. You have three friggin' quarters to make up the points.

Take the game against Seattle for example. The Hawks jump out to a lead. The Eagles panic and start throwing the ball around. The Hawks return them for touchdowns. You don't need an MBA (whatever the hell that statement means) to figure out where that leads.

The running game establishes momentum. It keeps your defense off the field. It grinds time away. It helps establish the play-action to help move the ball faster. You cannot abandon it in the first quarter.

What Clark Judge is really saying in this paragraph?

"Andy Reid is a pass-first coach who completely abandoned the run last season because he panicked in far too many situations. He became enthralled with his own genius and set his hurting quarterback up to be a human punching bag. If I was worth anything as a sports writer I would avoid making ludicrous claims as needing to pass more in the first quarter. Unfortunately, I do most of my writing after a huge bender of smoking basil."

Idiocy away.....

posted by Gavin @ 12:58 PM  0 comments

Thursday, July 27, 2006

New Seahawk Blog in Links Section

Because every new Seahawks blog is a gift from God, I bid welcome to Field Gulls, a blog I just found today over at SportsNation. I know he's cool because he's actually blogging about the Seahawks daily and it's July.

Amaze us with your intense blogging of all things Hawk related!!

posted by colin_hesse @ 6:18 PM  1 comments

Hawks Draft Picks Signed.... Except Jennings

Today was an extremely busy day for Hawks brass, as they reached agreements with OL Ron Sims, WR Ben Obomanu, and DE Darryl Tapp. That makes everyone except 1st rounder CB Kelly Jennings, who also happens to be the only draft pick in the running for a starting position. Head over to Mike Sando's place for all the critical updates, including possible reasons why Jennings could prolong his contract talks.

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:43 PM  0 comments

Why I Could Never Be A Sports Radio Host

Every now and then it gets mildly frustrating to listen to the yokels who call in to 950KJR. Take today, for example, where the discussion (of course) centered around Bill Bavasi and his terrific acquisition of Ben Broussard. Did I say "terrific"? I meant "bipolar and ignorant", according to the few who called while I was on the way to grab lunch.

Take "Pete" for example. I don't believe "Pete" will read this blog, since I'm not certain that "Pete" is literate, judging from his impassioned defense of Carl Everett for his "leadership". He managed to completely rationalize away the statistics provided by Broussard by the loss of what Everett brought to the locker room (like huge tantrums). "Pete" might be one of the most ignorant saps I've ever had the displeasure of listening to, and is possibly related to Pete Prisco.

Another caller brought up the same "moral quandary" argument postulated by Keith Law on ESPN.com. I am fairly sure that trading marginal prospects for big league talent isn't a "moral quandary". I call it a "steal".

Editor's Note: I know I'm using a lot of quotations in this blog. I like quotations... they are useful grammatical devices. If you don't like it, read USSM... oh... wait...

I'm a little worried about that Player To Be Named Later, although I would assume that there are a few players (Jeff Clement for example) that would not be on it. In fact, I'm 90% sure it's a pitcher, considering that the Indians traded Broussard to open to space for Victor Martinez at first. A catcher like Rob Johnson would be possible, although I would like to keep him around.

All in all, talk radio listeners managed to turn the ignorance meter up to 11 today. Colin and I might not be quite as stat-head'ish as those who write better about the M's than we do (Dr. D, Lookout Landings), but we see enough to know that we just massively improved the weakest part of our lineup, and did it at the expense of two players who were never going to see the light of day in Seattle. Definitely not a Lowe/Varitek for Slocumb trade, which apparently we get to read about until the end of time. Yippee.

Seahawks training camp starts tomorrow! Preseason schedule from Crushed Optimists tomorrow! I got my season tickets in the mail yesterday!

posted by Gavin @ 2:13 PM  0 comments

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Broussard = Awesome

Big fan of this move as well, even though it most likely means that Snelling continues to wait down in Tacoma. Choo had no place here in Seattle, while Broussard provides that much-needed left handed sock we hear so much about.

Seriously, if Ibanez gets super-psyched about hitting at SafeCo, you can predict that Broussard will like him some of that right field power alley as well. Again, SafeCo might be death to right handed hitters, but it's pretty nice to be a lefty there.

Hopefully this is a harbinger for a Sexson trade for young pitching. That would allow us to bring up Snelling as Broussard and Perez could platoon at first (exactly what Cleveland was doing). Weirdly enough, this is perhaps the first time that either Gavin or I can remember WANTING our team to trade a star-quality bat, but this time it actually makes sense, freeing up money and letting Snelling become a regular member of the lineup.

I actually like Bill Bavasi. I don't blame him for Beltre, Foppert, Reed, or even Spaz. He's always exciting around the trading deadline, and this quote of his shows that he is on the right train of thought surrounding this season:

We've been looking for a proven left-handed bat that can provide average and production and Ben has certainly done that this season. We feel like we're still a team in transition, but a team that has a chance to win this year. Ben not only helps us in 2006, we will control his contract for 2007 and 2008, so he will help us future seasons as well.

We are still a team in transition. Excellent. Exactly what I would say.

Where does today lead us? With almost ZERO questions about our lineup going forward into 2007.

C Johjima
1B Sexson
2B Lopez
SS Betancourt
3B Beltre
RF Ichiro
CF Jones
LF Ibanez
DH Broussard/Perez

What's wrong with that? Well, perhaps Sexson disappearing for some nice pitching help, allowing Snelling to join the DH club while Broussard and Perez fill in at first. Besides that, we would enter the offseason with nothing to prove and a bunch of nice young players.

With our new, Lowe-improved bullpen (if Soriano stays healthy), we would have a pennant-capable bullpen and lineup, leaving the only significant question mark the starting rotation. Unfortunately, that question mark is pretty freaking huge (another reason why trading Sexson for the right price would make sense).

Basically, we have Felix and Washburn, for sure, going forward. That's it. Moyer is the age of dirt, Pineiro pitches like dirt, and Meche.... well, let's just say that I don't want to go near him for the rest of his career. That's THREE holes to fill, a pretty whopping assignment for Bavasi.

Enter Zito. Schmidt. Matsuzake (did I spell that right?). If we can get at least ONE of those caliber of pitchers (two would be super-nice), that would just leave a hole at the #5 slot, where we could go with one of several minor-league possibilities. Suddenly, we are capable of winning 90 games, and we can actually start talking about a pennant race.

Good job, Bill. Keep it up while July 31 is still in the future.

Oh, and fire Mike Hargrove, will you? That guy sucks.

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:25 PM  0 comments

Bring In The Joy

The folks over at USSMariner (subsidiary of GodCo) have broken one of the nicer stories of the season with Carl "Dino-Buddy" Everett finally getting DFA'd in return for Chris Snelling being brought up.

Also, the interesting substitution of Choo in the 2nd inning of today's Rainiers game is worth watching...

Reading comment threads after news like this is always humorous, it's similar to after a home run is hit in a live game thread.
"WHOOOO"
"ALL RIIIIIGHT"
"WAY TO GOOOOOO"
"DJGIHELDKJHGLKELKJ NEED TYPING LESSONS"

I suppose there isn't a very good way to exude the type of exhilaration that comes with seeing that Carl Everett is no longer taking valuable playing time from some of our favorite minor league prospects. Some could ask why it took Bavasi so friggin' long to make this particular move, since it has been apparent for an inconceivably long time that Carl Everett=Jeremy Reed=Gavin at the plate.I think we'll be pleasantly surprised by the offensive boost replacing him with a platoon of Eduardo Perez/Chris Snelling (no Dobbs... BAD BAVASI) provides. I think you could draw a decent parallel with this and replacing Olivo/Hordes of Suckitude with Kenji Johjima. That has worked out nicely for us. Like I wrote Monday, this was one of the only offensive moves I have thought truly necessary for us to make. I'm not a huge believer in going and getting David Dellucci, because we have Chris Snelling. I'm only an interested partisan in possibly grabbing Alfonso Soriano, because he is definitely superior to our current options. Then, I'm not a huge fan in what we'll see the next few days, if only because (like Colin wrote yesterday) I don't see us as being in a pennant race, so I'd rather keep our tradeable talent around for next season, when my confidence continues to grow about our chances. If Bartolo Colon is injured, since he came out of the game today, my optimism grows slightly, but I'd prefer for us to just enjoy watching competitive baseball without necessarily going ape. Kill-joy.

Continue to read middle-aged men yell at each other on USSM for further updates.

posted by Gavin @ 2:46 PM  0 comments

Read This

I'm not a fan of the Cougars, but this is a great piece by Bud Withers on the tragic offseason endured by head football coach Bill Doba.

There's sports, and then there's life.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:26 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What Constitutes a Pennant Race?

I've been reading a lot of hootin' and a hollerin' about the Seattle Mariners and their run towards a postseason berth. Larry Stone discusses the race's impact on Gil Meche and whether the M's can trade their new "star" pitcher. Ted Miller believes that Adam Jones should be sent down because the M's can't try to break in new players in a race.

Even the guys at USSMariner (a subsidiary of GodCo) and Lookout Landing have fallen under the spell of the lovable guys in blue and their chances to make the postseason.

Now, I love the optimism, and I love those sites (though Ted Miller annoys the living hell out of me).

The question is.... are the Mariners in a pennant race?

If we judge that answer by the simple fact that, as of now, the Mariners are a slim 3 games out of first place in the AL West, then the answer is yes.

If we judge that answer by the simple fact that, as of now, the Mariners are 48-51, then the answer is no.

Thar's the dilemma. Sure, we all love the feeling of MEANINGFUL games after the misery of 2004 and 2005, also known as The Nether-Years, or When the Fun Police Were Taken Out Back and Shot in the Head Three Times, Sodomized, Cut Up, and Buried in the Front Lawn.

Games like Sunday against the Bo-Sox mean a tad more, when you aren't just flipping off the whole of New England, but you are also perhaps heading to the postseason!

Decisions matter a little more. Mike Hargrove can't decide to put in Mateo four nights in a row without the entire blog-o-verse screaming hysterically into the air a la Calculon. Carl Everett's continued presence in the lineup hurts more than just a rugburn; no, it's like a full-blown hernia. Joel Pineiro's continued presence in the starting rotation causes people to eat their pillows in rage.

This is all well and good. In fact, it's better than good, because it makes people happy, and happiness is a terrific thing. Yeah for happiness!

However, what exactly are we getting excited for? What exactly are we doing as a potential buyer in the trade market?

Let's consider the best case scenario, whereby we, somehow, capture the AL West title (Pitchers stricken with injuries include Jered Weaver, Jon Lackey, Danny Haren, and Barry Zito).

We would then be put in a best-of-five series against teams such as Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, Boston, New York, or Toronto.

Imagine the pitching lineup at that point. Meche vs. Bonderman! Moyer vs. Garland! Washburn vs. Santana! Felix vs. Schilling!

Basically, can someone comprehend a possible scenario where our three best pitchers would rival their three best pitchers?

I say this (while writing like Steve Kelley, with one sentence per paragraph), not to burst any bubbles, but simply to conclude that our goal isn't to try to slip into the playoffs with a decent, .500 team. Our goal should be to win the World Series, plain and simple, and build a team capable of doing that.

This team? No. Not capable of doing that. Not even, in my opinion, able to win the AL West, because of our starting pitching. I guess what I'm saying (in pure rambling fashion) is that it is well and good to enjoy this time and this playoff "race", but I will be ultra-pissed if we trade any more of our young players for veterans in a move "guaranteed" to help us reach the postseason. We just can't get carried away. I don't care if we "buy" anyone this trading deadline. I would actually prefer to see us as a seller, because we should be considering building towards a playoff run in 2007 or 2008, when we will actually have a chance.

If that means trading Meche, then do it. Trade Ibanez. Trade Sexson. Even consider trading Beltre if the Yankees are truly, stupidly, shopping A-Rod.

I will have fun watching the M's, but I don't consider us to be in a pennant race, and I won't, at the very least, until we are consistently above .500, with Pineiro out of the rotation, Hargrove out of the dugout, and Everett out of the lineup. This might be "meaningful" baseball, but it's not playoff caliber baseball. Sorry, everyone.

P.S. Please tell me why I'm wrong and a douche in the comments. Just remember that I picked the Angels to win this thing a couple of weeks ago when they were in last place. Now? Tied for first.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:32 PM  0 comments

Monday, July 24, 2006

Now That's Some Offseason Analysis That's Easy On The Eyes

I would like to officially thank God and the NFL Network for the show "Chargers Cheerleaders: Making the Squad".

On the one hand we have mediocre offseason analysis by the likes of Petey King.

On the other we have mega-babes practicing line dancing.

US Women's Curling Team has nothing here.

More "analysis" to come.

posted by Gavin @ 8:54 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

This is perhaps a pseudo-Explosion, since I'm not exactly linking to anything, but I hadn't used that title in a while, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. I hadn't blogged for a bit, so here are some nice tidbits to chew on while enjoying these friggin' heat.

- It's really hot outside.

- I have no air conditioning.

- I whine about heat a lot.

Moving on, training camp has started for the NFL. One would think that would mean the return of decent analysis (hell, analysis of any kind) from such pundits as Petey Prisco, Petey King, Clark Judge, etc. One would be wrong. Reading through their tripe today yet again made me yearn for just one shot to replace any of these yokels. Petey King? We can do without the Al Gore plug for An Inconvenient Truth, as well. Clark Judge? Enough of the restaurant and hotel reviews. I could really care less.

While it's great to read about the "headlines entering camp" it just happens to coincide with every other headline we've read about during the offseason. For example, did you know Terrell Owens is going to be a Cowboy? How is he going to work with Drew Bledsoe? This basically means that we hear nothing new... again.

Is decent analysis that hard to come by this year? Maybe we're just paying more attention this time around, as we get more full of our superior capabilities. Maybe the Crushed Optimists just need to step up with our own previews soon (schedule forthcoming this week). All I know is, football can't start soon enough.

Mariner baseball is interesting, at least. I'm starting to read a lot of Dr. Detecto. I don't think he gets quite enough credit in the blogosphere, and this editorial staff will attempt to change that in the coming weeks. His POTD on Mark Lowe was spot-on, same with Adam Jones. While we plan on signing Matsuzaka, I think we have to consider moving Lowe/Soriano into the rotation. That would leave us with Felix, Matsuzaka, Meche (if we do believe this is a reality), Washburn, Lowe/Soriano. If we allow Meche to leave, we also have Fruto/Cruceta waiting in the wings, not to mention the possibility of signing Jason Schmidt in the offseason as well.

All this to say... going into the season, we knew our starting pitching was going to be abysmal. Piniero/Meche were two of the absolute worst pitchers in baseball in 2005. We believed the hitting and bullpen would be improved. At this point, we have gotten more than we bargained for, especially cynics like myself (read some of my posts from the beginning of the season, I sounded like I was getting ready for a 100+ loss season). So instead we gain all this solid young hitting (Betancourt/Lopez), get what could be considered the best closer in M's history (Putz... although Colin believes '95 Norm Charlton might have the edge, but Putz has the edge in youth), not one, but two dominant right handed relievers (Soriano/Lowe), a dominant lefty reliever (Sherrill), and a heck of a lot of optimism. I don't think it's going out much on a limb to say that if we make zero improvements to our offense in the offseason, but sign Matsuzaka and promote Mark Lowe to the rotation we are a playoff caliber squad. Of course, getting rid of Mike Hargrove goes a long way to my optimism in that path as well.

So there it is, my optimism has returned. I am pumped... not necessarily about 2006 (although it would be a nice surprise), but most definitely about 2007.

Nothing really new on the Sonics front. I'm still depressed. I'm thinking about joining one of those Keep Sonics Here groups, if only because I have some free time and maybe I can meet women.

Frequent commentor Nate, have a safe trip over from New York with your new bride. Colin and I have an offer for you once you get here.

posted by Gavin @ 1:50 PM  0 comments

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fun With Mediocrity - Jacksonville Jaguars Style

Check out these two competing previews on the Jacksonville Jaguars...

Will someone step up and assume the #1 receiver role?
Writer "A": "There is hope from a lot of Jacksonville fans that someone will step up, but I just don't see that guy on the roster right now. Ernest Wilford is a bigger, slower receiver who really would benefit from having a true No. 1 opposite of him. Reggie Williams was selected in the first round of the 2004 draft to be the guy, but he is way too inconsistent. Matt Jones has excellent athletic skills but is still extremely raw in terms of knowing all the nuisances that go into being a go-to receiver. The team re-signed veteran Troy Edwards, but he is best suited as a No. 3. The bottom line is the Jaguars do not have a true No. 1 receiver. They have a bunch of No. 3s and No. 4s."

Writer "B": "Well, someone has to, right? I mean, every team has a #1 receiver, even if he sucks (look at Kansas City or San Francisco, for example). The person best able to? Reggie Williams has been a huge disappointment for his first two pro years, which is weird since he rocked at UW, but he sure can't be counted on. Matt Jones showed flashes of brilliance his rookie year, but he is still learning the position and it would be unfair to expect huge things out of him this year. That leaves Ernest Wilford, a semi-talented receiver who seemed to be Leftwich's favorite target outside of Smith. Wilford doesn't exactly have breakaway speed, but he runs acceptable routes and gets open (basically, a lesser version of D-Jack). So, the correct answer is Ernest Wilford, but the even MORE correct answer (if you go to the probable direction of this question, which is will any receiver become a star) is no one. If you asked me the same question at the beginning of NEXT season, I would lean towards Matt Jones on both counts. I love that guy."

Is Byron Leftwich going to step up and reach his potential?
Writer "A": "The addition of former Vikings head coach Mike Tice should help Leftwich develop. Although Tice never has been a QB coach, he has been around some very good QBs in his days with the Vikings. He is a very good communicator with players, and I think he and Leftwich will develop a solid rapport. Leftwich did not put up big numbers last season, but he did improve. He threw 15 touchdowns to five interceptions, which is a good indication that his decision making was better. The Jags likely will take more chances in the passing game this season. That could increase Leftwich's interception total some, but it also should result in more big plays, something this offense needs."

Writer "B": "What? What kind of stupid question is that? Leftwich was an acceptable quarterback last year who struggled in the postseason because Jack DelRio stupidly assumed that he was entirely ready to go. Leftwich comes from the Matt Leinart school of quarterbacking. He will be a solid quarterback, but he'll never be a superstar quarterback. That's fine, and those sort of quarterbacks can win Super Bowls (Brad Johnson), but I don't know what more Jaguar fans should be expecting from him. His "potential" (are we talking about the NBA now?) isn't a 10, it's more like a 7 or, at most, an 8. He was almost there last season, and I doubt he will take any huge steps back this season, but no steps forward. Smith is gone. Taylor is a year older. His receiving corps is young and inexperienced. Tendency to get injured. No."

Will Jacksonville be able to overtake Indianapolis?
Writer "A": "I don't think so, but I put it on the list because so many fans keep asking me this question. Personally, I think the Jaguars would be lucky to get back to 12-4. I think their fans and organization are in a little bit of denial about just how good this team is. Sure, they went 12-4 last season, but they showed in their playoff loss in New England that their record was more fluke than fact. Jacksonville won eight of its last 10 games last season, but all those wins came against teams that missed the playoffs. Jacksonville's goal will be to win the AFC South, but its focus will be on just getting back to the playoffs."

Writer "B": "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Um, no. No, they will not be able to overtake Indianapolis. I don't even know what kind of analysis could cause someone to lean the other way. I mean, sure, they might BEAT Indy once next season. Big whup. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Seahawks two years ago, and the 49ers barely lost to the Seahawks once last season. But, seriously, the Jags played absolutely no one on their schedule last season, and looked remarkably horrible for a supposed 12-4 team against New England, both offensively and defensively. The problem, in my opinion, was that they didn't seem to actually improve as the season moved along. At the beginning of the season they looked great, even of course beating Seattle (and they were the better team at that point). But they either stayed the same or regressed by the end of the season on both sides, never quite dominating."

Position Battle (Reggie Williams, Ernest Wilford, Troy Edwards)
Writer "A": "Wilford will begin the season as the starter. He has shown good overall production in his first few seasons, but a lot of that was based on having veteran Jimmy Smith playing opposite him. Wilford is a slow, possession-type receiver who can use his frame to make some plays in a crowd, but he is not a guy who is gong to be able to separate from people consistently.
Williams, on the other hand, has a ton of talent, but a lack of focus has hindered his ability to make plays on a consistent basis. Edwards is the wild card. He has more experience than the two players ahead of him on the depth chart. He is a guy who also has some focus issues at times, but he knows how to get open and has a much better feel for the game. Each of the three players adds a little different dimension, but this is not a wide-open offense, so a lot of plays will come from two-receiver sets."


Writer "B": "Um, wasn't this the first question? Having a hard time coming up with actual questions to consider when talking about the Jaguars? Also, where is Matt Jones in this question? Honestly, this isn't even a battle. These are the top three wide receivers, who will be used interchangeably in whatever way best moves the chains. This isn't a battle. This is a stupid question. I'm done with it."

Player under the microscope
Writer "A": "WR Williams. Williams was drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2004 to be the heir apparent to longtime productive WR Jimmy Smith. With Smith's sudden retirement, that time has come. However, Williams has done very little in his first two NFL seasons. He played a little better at times last season, but he is still a guy who has exactly one TD reception in two NFL seasons. Williams has talent, but he has had trouble adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. His hands also have been a lot more inconsistent than he showed at the college level. Heading into camp, Williams is listed as the No. 3 receiver. He needs to step up and become a starter at this point, though, or he officially can start carrying the "bust" title."

Writer "B": "How about Fred Taylor? The media keeps telling us that this dude is just the shizz-nit, but he keeps getting injured by Week 4 and he never looks that dominant when he's actually in the huddle. His age is also catching up to him, so this season might be his last wearing a Jags uniform. The front office thought so as well, drafting Maurice Drew from UCLA. Don't be surprised if Drew is starting sooner rather than later. The Jags might be better off with sooner just to see what they have in him before looking to the draft next year."

Breakout Player
Writer "A": "Rookie TE Marcedes Lewis. On a team with very few legitimate receiving threats, Lewis has a chance to make an immediate impact. Lewis' stock might have slipped a little in the draft, but that was only because of his 40 time, which was in the low 4.8 range. Lewis plays much faster. He is a polished receiver with solid hands. He is a good route runner, and on tape he shows the speed to press the seam. He will have plenty of opportunities to make plays in the short to intermediate passing game."

Writer "B": "An actual breakout player on the Jags? You know, my pick wouldn't generally be considered a breakout player by true Jags fans, because he's already awesome, but no one outside of Florida seems to know about him. I'm talking about a man who's developing into one of the best cornerbacks in the game, Rashean Mathis. Obviously I haven't seen enough Jags football to see his weaknesses as well, but the games I have seen him in (like against Seattle last season), he really stood out to me as one of the leaders on the defense. This might be the season that he finally gets double digit picks and gets some well-deserved praise."

Comeback Player of the Year
Writer "A": "SS Donovin Darius. This is an easy choice. Darius played in only two games last year before injuring his knee and being placed on IR. Darius will turn 31 this summer, but he was still playing at a solid level before the injury. It would be tough to say he can come back and play at the same level he did before the injury, but his presence back in the lineup still will pay dividends. Darius is a physical, run-support strong safety, and the Jaguars were inconsistent in their ability to stop the run. He is also a smart player who is a leader on the field -- he is the type of player who makes everyone else better by just being on the field."

Writer "B": "There are only a few players on the Jags roster that can even qualify for this award, since you must have sucked in the preceding season. Thus, I'm forced to pick an individual who I don't actually think will be that much better, but he couldn't be any worse. That's tackle Mike Williams, who the Jags picked up off the scrap heap from Buffalo. He possesses a nice physique and serious skills, but he's lazy and underperforms. Maybe THE Mike Tice can mold him into an actual player. Hey, that pencil isn't just for looks, you know?"

Offensive Philosophy
Writer "A": "The Jaguars already have gone through a few offensive coordinators during the Jack Del Rio era. Carl Smith took over the job last season, but it already appears his authority will be somewhat stripped. This offseason, the Jaguars added Tice, who has an offensive background and will be involved heavily on the offensive side of the football. In fact, the Jaguars already have started to incorporate some of the Vikings' system into their offense. This means we will see more two-tight end sets in Jacksonville along with a lot more emphasis on the vertical passing game. Initially, Tice will not be the play caller, but his influence in the system will be felt. Should the Jaguars struggle on offense early, it also would not be a surprise to see Tice become involved in play calling."

Writer "B": "Answer: Try desperately to score points. No, their philosophy is going to be the same as the majority of teams in the NFL. They will try to run to set up the pass, unless the running game fails, and then they will try to pass to set up the run. It's called football. Look for Taylor to get plenty of touches early, and for them to operate the run and pass out of the shotgun, where Leftwich seems WAY more comfortable. The passing game will attempt a few long balls (Reggie Williams), but a short approach with multiple slant routes will be the norm. At least, that's the way it was, and I see no reason that they will attempt to change that since they just lost their best receiver."

Defensive Philosophy
Writer "A": "The Jaguars' defense is coordinated by Mike Smith, but Del Rio (a former defensive coach and player) has a lot of input into the constructing of the defensive scheme. Jacksonville is a team that likes to zone blitz. The Jags are a fairly conservative defense, though, and will play a lot of zone behind their blitz pressure. They are a bend-but-don't-break type of defense that does not take a lot of chances in coverage. However, I have been told Jacksonville will play more man coverage this season. The addition of cornerback Brian Williams gives the Jaguars another solid man cover corner opposite Rashean Mathis. They will get Darius back from injury, and he is a guy who makes sure everyone gets lined up properly. The Jaguars are an excellent defensive team, but too often they get caught playing on their heels. You can expect them to come out and be a little more aggressive this season."

Writer "B": "Answer: Attempt to stop the other team from scoring points. Seriously, the defense operates from the two stalwarts in the middle, Stroud and Henderson. That's the focal point. They allow everything to open up for MLB Mike Peterson, who is a sure tackler. This is why they are an excellent team against the run. However, the secondary, outside of Mathis, could use a little work, which is why they picked up Brian Williams from Minnesota. They should continue to be tough against the run (health of players permitting), while protecting against the deep ball. A good defense overall."

In case you didn't get the point yet, Writer "A" is Scouts Inc extroardinaire Jeremy Green, and Writer "B" is Colin. Writer "A" gets paid tons of money to be called an "expert", and Colin's not wearing pants right now. The Crushed Optimists are sick and tired of these pansy previews. These people get paid real money to tell us real information about these teams. Jacksonville isn't even in the friggin' NFC and Colin knows more than this yutz. Yes, it is obvious that we have been bored with these training camp "previews". Bring on the real analysis, people.

posted by Gavin @ 6:09 PM  0 comments

The Super (Old) Bowl

By and large, gentleman who appreciate the great game of football understand that the quarterback is the most important position on the field. They realize that the quarterback has the ball in his possession longest, is in control of ball distribution, and can make serious mistakes to cost his team the game.

This is the main reason why people are discounting the Bengals as a contender until Carson Palmer proves he's healthy. It's why the Bronco's have never won the Big One since Elway left. It's why quarterbacks are generally taken #1 in the draft.

Thus, when you are handicapping potential Super Bowl champions, by and large, one must first take stock of the talent at that position before mentioning any other valuables. In other words, teams like the champion Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccs (led by an underappreciated Brad Johnson) don't come around that often.

Even Big Ben, though he absolutely sucked in the Super Bowl, was the main reason the Steelers made it to the game, with his absolutely stunning play against the Colts and Broncos.

Can someone explain to me, then, why Jason Whitlock would be picking a Super Bowl matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins?

Super Bowl XLI: McNair. Brunell. Championship football!

Steve McNair has yet to complete a truly healthy football season in, like, the past ten years. His arm strength is down, and his mobility, that truly made him special, is basically gone. He is now no more mobile then Drew Bledsoe, and the Ravens are protecting him with an aging and unspectacular offensive line.

Mark Brunell was completely broken down before last season, but had an amazing first half. However, his second half, and especially his two playoff games, were horrendous, as perhaps he wore down through the grind of tough NFC East football.

By the way, that's the other argument against both these posers. There is no way that a team out of the NFC East gets a 1st round bye. Same with the AFC North. Compare either of those divisions with, say the NFC West, or the NFC North, or the AFC South, or the AFC East.

I give a little more probablity to the Redskins then to the Ravens, simply because of coaching, Clinton Portis, and a better defense, but both these picks are going pretty out on a wire.

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:35 PM  0 comments

Crushed Position Clarification

To clarify the Crushed Position on this whole Sonics mess...

We are NOT in favor of simply giving in to the Sonics demands for an extension of the hotel tax while they provide virtually nothing towards the arena improvements.

We ARE in favor of a new arena being partially subsidized with tax money.

There are NO actual good scenarios out there at this time, one of the more frustrating points of this whole debate. There is no voice of reason, just to say, "Well, if they would all listen to 'X', everything would be fine."

For example, before taxpayer money would be used, we would need to see a report done on why the Key Arena has gone in 10 years from being "state of the art" to "decrepit", and an analysis of the NBA economic world to further shed light on the horrific arms race in arenas everywhere... essentially, upon what deity would the Sonics swear that this would make them profitable for the forseeable future and based upon what data?

However, to all those who object to using any money, even your hero Nicky Licata was quoted yesterday as stating that millions already need to be spent on Seattle Center to bring it up to code. So one or another our money is going down the crapper... I'd at least like to be able to watch the dance team for my donation.

We can all shout and scream until we're blue in the face, but at this point we're arguing about extremes. Apparently there is no sense of compromise anywhere in this horrific system. You'd think these douches were arguing about invading Iraq.

Is any of this going to change with the OKC men in charge?

Not likely. So the tenor of the conversation even between fans isn't likely to change.

Go Seahawks.

posted by Gavin @ 8:40 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The League of Douches: Caption These!

Mmmmm. Tastes like Douche!

Why should a poor mayoral douche fight for the Sonics when one can worry about owls, whales, and monorail systems?


I'm from Seattle. My hippie doucheness doesn't want anything remotely fun that doesn't involve nature, drugs, and sexual intercourse.

Us douches from Oklahoma are delighted to be ripping your sports team away from you! We'll even give you the Softball Hall of Fame!

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:20 PM  0 comments

When Everyone You See is a Douche

In the stories I read growing up (what the heck, in the books I still read) like the Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe would have a fairly predictable storyline where they would be walking to:

A. The Gym
B. The School
C. Mr. McGillicuddy's Ice Cream Emporium

when they would suddenly spot a suspicious looking gentleman doing something suspicious. Well, to most people, that wouldn't mean a thing, since basically everyone looks suspicious at some point in their lives (like Butter's dad in Butter's own episode), but to Frank and Joe, that meant that they were hot on the trail of a crime gang that would somehow kidnap their father until Frank and Joe would set him free. Their father, by the way, must have been the least capable crime fighter since Barney Fife.

Good would triumph over evil. Intelligence (what little Frank and Joe had) would triumph over stupidity. And I would grow a little more into the well-rounded (not like Gavin) individual I am today.

Those are the good stories.

The story unfolding right now in Seattle is not one of those good stories.

The story unfolding right now in Seattle reminds me of the Clint Eastwood film "Unforgiven". In the movie, for those of you who only watch girl movies like "When Harry Met Sally" (hint: they fall in love) or "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" (hint: they fall in love), Clint Eastwood plays a retired gunslinger who is forced back into the game for one last assassination by a young wanna-be outlaw and a bunch of hookers, aided by his trusty sidekick, the remains of Morgan Freeman. They are opposed by a ruthless sheriff (Gene Hackman) and a rag-tag group of gunmen. No one wins. No one is a good guy. No one rides off on a white horse. Basically, it's all about the darkness of humanity, blah blah blah, and thus it won an Oscar.

Oscar likes himself some douches. Thus, if someone writes a movie about Seattle right now, they might as well entitle it "How Greg Met Howard: The Douche Chronicles", because they will automatically be guaranteed an Oscar, especially if Tim Robbins plays Howie Schultz and Jake Gyllenhall plays Greg Nickels.

It didn't have to be like this.

Schultz was already a multi-billionaire when he bought the Sonics. He owns Starbucks. You might have heard of that company. They make coffee and then make you order your coffee in Italian, like a sucker. Well, sir, Howie was super stoaked about owning a sports team. He was super energized, super enthusiastic, and super psyched, giving super quote after super quote about how he would take Seattle back to the promised land.

Instead, they drafted about ten 8 footers who all couldn't exactly play the game of basketball well, drafted another hobbit to play point guard, and actually hired Bob Weiss, a guy who looks like a nice middle school teacher, to coach the team. They also immediately began crying their fannies off about how expensive it was to operate in Key Arena, the Arena, mind you, that had JUST BEEN RENOVATED not ten years prior.

Seattle sports fans, including myself, thought, "Wait a second.... why is a billionaire complaining about money? Isn't he, well, a billionaire? I earn twenty-thousand a year, and he earns over twenty million, and he's complaining about money? Hmmmm. That sounds vaguely douche-ish to me."

So Howie talked about moving to the waterfront. He talked about moving to Bellevue. He even talked about moving to Renton. Nothing worked.

Meanwhile, in liberal hippie happy land, where money should only be spent on the arts and saving endangered species, Gren Nickels peacefully stuck his fingers in his ears and started singing, "Kum-ba-yah", of course substituting the words "My Kos" in for "My Lord". Why in the world, Nickels thought, would we spend more money on something that makes people happier? That's not the hippie way!

Regular Seattle voters were the ones who didn't like people talking about the Seahawks because it distracted from "global issues", like the (illegal) war in Iraq or the (illegal) presidential election or the (super-illegal) governor's election (no, wait, that was perfect). The Sonics also represented the NBA, which, as all hippies know, as contributed heavily to the decline of African American test scores across America. Worst of all, Howard Schultz was white, which meant that a rich white man was asking for more money. Well, that was the last straw. How DARE a WHITE OPPRESSOR MALE ask for money?

Greg Nickels reacted the only way a hippie knows how. With utter disgust, proclaiming Schultz's remarks about losses "stupid" and "crybaby-ish". The two then conducted a douche slappie-fight through the media, using naughty words like "poophead", "poop-for-brains" and "an alien from Ur-Anus".

Thus, the stage was set for the final douche additions to this farce. Businessmen from Oklahoma City. heretofore known for the "International Gymnastics Hall of Fame" (no kidding) and the "National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum". In other words, this is a city best known for a horrible bombing and nothing else.

Oh, did I mention they "happened" to host an NBA team from New Orleans this past year and attendence was pretty much awesome?

Well, obviously the group of businessmen didn't hear about that, because they overflowed with praise for the fine city of Seattle, down to the earthy qualities of Pioneer Square, the aroma floating in from Tacoma, and the other douches residing in City Hall. Never mind that they were from Oklahoma City, they were from Seattle at heart.

"Never fear, Seattle. Your fair team is safe with us."

LIAR, DOUCHE!! LIAR!!

If a billionaire "can't afford" to renovate the Key, are a group of businessmen from a city thousands of miles away going to renovate it? Answer: No. No, they are not.

If a billionaire FROM SEATTLE can't seem to coexist with the mayor, will a group of businessman from RedState USA coexist? Answer: No, again.

If the owner from Starbucks can't reach out to the people and hippies of Seattle with his soy latte's, will a bunch of cowpokes be able to? Answer: When Al Gore becomes President of the United States.

Thus, here is the scorecard.

Howie = Douche.

Greg = Douche.

Seattle hippies = Douches.

Ok City businessmen = Douches.

David Stern = Douche as well, but that's for another post.

There are no Hardy Boys here. No Jack Ryan's, no Sherlock Holmes', no Jean-Luc Picard's.

No Superman to cast himself on the cross for our sins (or was that Jesus? After the newest Superman movie, I forget).

No Kaffy (my dog) to get groomed and become scared by the dog in the mirror, not recognizing that it was himself all the time.

Not even a Rainbow Brite.

Who are the victims in all this? Me. That's it. I'm the victim. Well, and the rest of actual Sonics fans across the nation who grew up with Kemp, GP, Xavier, Karl, McIlvaine, Sleepy Sam, etc. The people who supported the Sonics even when they drafted people from Senegal and gave the Trash Bag King huge money to play the bench for several years.

Douches, listen to us! Renounce your douche ways and return to the light! There is still time to not be a douche! Stern, turn out not to be a douche and fight as hard for us as you did for New Orleans, a city with no economy that had had the team for about six years!

And for you, Mr. Nickels, I have these words, taken from my (or somebody's) uncle: "With great power comes great responsibility".

Sincerely,

Colin Hesse and the Douche Haters League
Sponsored by Love

P.S. I'll even play you guys in a "Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth". You guys can have Gandalf.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:10 PM  4 comments

Can We Just Get This Over With?

It might be sunny outside in Seattle (although I wouldn't really know, since I'm safely ensconced in San Jose), but the mood of Seattle sports fans has to be dark. I'm a little disappointed I'm not around to listen to KJR 950 the past couple of days, but I bet they ran out of new ideas within the first fifteen minutes. There simply isn't anything to be optimistic about.

What are we supposed to think when the team is bought by a team full of Oklahoma City businessmen, who are led by a personality who has already made several public claims previous to this purchase about bringing a pro sports francise to his home town? Does anyone truly believe either his words or Howard Schultz that they are "committed" to keeping the team in the Pacific Northwest? If an ownership team full of Seattle businessmen can't make it happen, exactly what is supposed to change now?

It's depressing because there is just so much blame to go around. There isn't a single player who can legitimately claim they have made a good faith effort to keep the Sonics around.

The city is unwilling to admit that Seattle Center and Key Arena are decrepit pieces of junk, and that millions of dollars are needed to make any of it worthwhile (although Nick "Business Major" Licata does appear to make some quotes to that effect in the Seattle PI), and unwilling to admit any liability/culpability in making that happen.

The vocal taxpayers in Seattle might be some of the most misguided idiots ever. We can't do a monorail. We can't replace the Viaduct. We can't replace the 520 bridge. We can't put together funding for a stadium. Man. We suck.

The ownership team, who just cashed in a cool 150 million dollar profit, was unwilling to raise that money through investing in a new arena, lied to us about Key Arena being "state of the art" when it was renovated 10 years ago, and lied to us about the lease agreement being acceptable when they bought the damn team.

Where are the voices of reason? Art Theil, for one, whose biting article as usual mirrors my own thoughts. Art, you're right, it does feel like the ownership groups think we're all morons. The absurd festivities surrounding this transition feel like some horrible joke. Even Steve Kelley has some good lines, my personal favorite being, "Five years ago, the Lord of Lattes pledged an NBA championship for the city of Seattle. Five years later, he gave it the shaft instead." This was not an ownership group we'll miss.

What about Oklahoma City? They have proven they can support a team, at least in the short term, and as I wrote yesterday, smaller cities do have a track record (San Antonio, Sacramento) of handling NBA franchises. Local fans also seem to have no problem supporting OU and OSU athletics, so I think there is a long term base. Seattle fans would do better than criticizing Oklahoma City... the economic travails of the NBA aren't their fault.

At the end of the day, anger turns to sadness. Kevin Jackson, who can always be counted on to write sad articles about Seattle for ESPN, sums up the feelings of loss. Now, I can't conjure up as many good feelings, but I will say that for a few years in the 90's, there wasn't a better ticket in this town. Now? I almost wish it would happen tomorrow, instead of this long drawn out divorce. Why would anyone put down season ticket money for a false 40 year anniversary celebration? Why would anyone want to be associated with a team just looking for an opportunity to bolt? This will be one of the oddest sports seasons I'll have ever been around, a fan base torn between being, well, fans, and anger/depression/apathy.

Congratulations, Howard Schultz. You sold out your home city.
Congratulations, Greg Nickels. You sold out your home city.

Go Seahawks.

posted by Gavin @ 2:40 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Scouts Inc is Worthless

ESPN unveiled their previews today with Scouts Inc taking on the NFC and AFC West divisions. Excited to see what there was to potentially rip on, I loaded up every one of them, only to find that they are insanely dull. Colin's wife could have written them, the level of football knowledge was so low (sorry Jenn). Most of them appear to have been done in around fifteen minutes while looking at a roster sheet. The position battles are ridiculous, like Kurt Warner versus Matt Leinart. I don't friggin' care how "amazing" Leinart has been in offseason programs, there is absolutely no way he is better prepared than Warner to lead the Cardinals starting the season. It doesn't work that way.

Speaking of odd choices, why would they assign Ken Kidd to cover the AFC West and Jeremy Green the NFC West, since that meant they actually chose to put Green in the position of writing about his father (Denny Green) and the Cardinals. Wouldn't it have been a little easier to switch that and avoid the conflict of interest?

To give you an idea of how pathetic these previews are, I'm going to boil Green's Cardinal preview down.

How big an impact will Edgerrin James have?
He's good, but the Cardinals are bad at running. We'll see what happens.

Can the offensive line produce?
They added a reject from the Texans and a guard, so they get to depend on a new coordinator. We'll see what happens.

Can Carlos Dansby step up and lead the defense?
He has issues. We'll see what happens.

Position battle: Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart
Pure unadultered opium based speculation

The player under the microscope: Edgerrin James
He's making a lot of money and needs to run.

Breakout player: Leonard Pope
He can catch the ball over the middle

Comeback player of the year: Antrel Rolle
(first off, I have huge problems with anyone putting a second year player as comeback player of the year... I think it places an absurd amount of responsibility on the first season. It's called a learning curve, jerk.) He has talent. We'll see what happens.

Offensive philosophy
They throw the ball a lot. They will try to be more "balanced".

Defensive philosophy
They blitz.

Look, I just saved you five minutes of reading fluff. All of the previews, including the one on YOUR Seattle Seahawks are just as pathetic. I highly recommend skipping all of them.

posted by Gavin @ 4:04 PM  0 comments

Time to Wave Goodbye

The moment we've been semi-dreading for two years has finally come to pass... Howard Schultz and friends have sold our Seattle SuuuuuperSonics to the highest bidder, a team of Oklahoma City businessmen. While the buyers have already proclaimed their intentions of keeping the Sonics in Seattle through discussions with Renton and Bellevue, I think the writing is on the wall. The Sonics will be gone. With the love-fest the Hornets received last season in Oklahoma City the city showed itself ready for prime-time major sports, and I don't really see there being any way the Sonics stick around. Mayor Greg Nickels and the morons with "Spend Our Money on Better Things" have already made it clear that the Sonics aren't important to the long term future of Seattle (apparently it's better to waste billions on a failed monorail system or nothing but talk on replacing the Viaduct instead). Bellevue and Renton are growing and the East Side does have plenty of voters with cash, but do we truly believe they will be able to push across a taxpayer funded new building?

I think this whole situation should be a huge warning for the NBA. After years of doom and gloom scenarios for MLB, it appears that our thinking should have been focused elsewhere.

Here's Gavin's highly speculative economic theory surrounding the NBA at this time. I think the NBA can only be truly successful when it is either in a large media center like New York or Los Angeles or in a city like San Antonio when it's the only game in town. Let's face it, the NBA is the third of the major sports. The NFL and MLB have it beat easily. In Seattle it is no contest. Everyone just waits for the Hawks to be good and put the Sonics on the backburner. Even Husky basketball is now bigger. Colin was telling me that in Phoenix the FSN broadcast of Diamondback games was still outdrawing Suns playoff games during the first round. You think that would be the same if the positions were reversed? Portland, by the way, is a special case, where an organization pissed away one of the most rabid fan bases in America through systematically drafting/hiring/signing social rejects. It does bring up another point, though, that even in those smaller cities like Oklahoma City and Portland who would love to focus their energy on a pro team to call their own, that if that team isn't competitive for years, they may not have the overall financial stability to keep the team profitable, while James Dolan and the Knicks have more money than they apparently know what to do with.

What does this mean for us as fans? I'm a little ambivalent, as the Crushed Optimists have never been shy about our overall distaste for the NBA. Still, it's a fairly depressing turn of events. With Portland's future also up in the air, the Northwest has to begin to look to a future of UW and Gonzaga basketball for our fix.

Perhaps I'll be proven wrong. I'm just not optimistic at this time.

posted by Gavin @ 3:17 PM  0 comments

Monday, July 17, 2006

Time for More

Since Colin decided to show up in a major way today, it wouldn't be fair to deprive our captive audience of my own insane ramblings, even if I am apparently far outstripped in any quest to be named the greater nerd in the family. Seriously, I don't remember half of those Star Trek characters Colin named below. Who the hell was Lt Tom Paris? More importantly, why even include Star Trek Voyager in a post about Star Trek? As far as I'm concerned, that abomination of a series never happened.

Anyways, where have I been? I was asked to participate in a pagan ritual of epic proportions, otherwise known as being Best Man in a wedding for frequent commentor Nate, who probably isn't going to be reading this blog for a week or so (lord only knows what he's missing). Oddly enough, I've only been in three wedding parties and each time have been that particular title. Apparently, either people really like me or they think I'm garbage. If any of our readers has read this blog long enough, you might have caught a glimpse of that from our self-serving cynicism that surrounds our overwhelming sense of superiority compared to minor beings such as Petey Prisco.

So yeah... weddings are great. Even if old people don't find me funny... seriously people, when marriages happen, they get to have sex. It's okay to think about it (not to fantasize about it... that's just weird you pervert). If I make a joke about it, don't all just stare at me like I opened up the portal to the netherworld. I think I'm going to make a point of using the word "masturbation" in every speech I give at a wedding from now on just to get that particular glassy stare.

This particular wedding also gave me the opportunity to be chastised for being a part of this blog, probably overdue. Colin and I have now been accused of trying to wreck a marriage, because there are actually people who read us religiously. To those people (you know who you are), keep it up. The ladies will have to deal. Watch Hitch or something one night just to help close the gap. Steer clear of Pride and Prejudice, though... nothing short of the big happy is worth that long winded farce. Knowing again that people read us often does mean I should try to avoid not posting for a week and a half, though. I could have been really involved in the M's... zzzzzzzz.....

Yeah, sports. It's depressing when a writer you admire writes one of the most idiotic paragraphs known to man. That writer would be one KC Joyner, someone who is actually trying to bring a form of statistical analysis to football. His Football Scientist book was one I actually have considered making a purchase of prior to the season for some additional insight. To see if that book was worth my time, I decided to follow a link in his most recent article to a 40 page preview. My senses were immediately attacked by the following absurd statement:

Cincinnati Bengals: The Next Dynasty

This coming from a book that is attempting to establish itself as an objective statistical observer on the NFL. "Interesting," Gavin said to himself quietly. "How on earth does Joyner make that statement?"

Apparently by avoiding everything he writes before and afterwards. Let's go through this Billy Madison-esque reasoning (hint: the reaction of the judge after his speech... "and may God have mercy on your soul").

"I think the Cincinnati Bengals are going to be the next great team. I'm not talking about just being a playoff team. I mean that this team is on the kind of track that leads to multiple Super Bowl wins."

Riiiiight. Statistical probability of this happening = Statistical probability of Gavin marrying Jessica Alba. Amazing to have dreams.

"The reason I say this is because of how Marvin Lewis handled his team towards the end of the year."

Let's get this straight. The reason you are making this bold prediction has absolutely nothing to do with this book? It's because of the friggin' coach?

"In week 16 the Bengals had a home game against Buffalo. If they won the game, it would keep them as the #2 seed in the conference, thus ensuring a bye week and a home playoff game in the divisional round. The Bengals laid an egg against the Bills and blew their chance for the bye."

A real author looking at statistics might notice that the reason the Bengals lost this game is the offense couldn't continue carrying the team to the extent it was earlier in the season. The defense was bad and continued to be bad (I may actually use statistics to back this up in a second, but bear with me).

"The next week's game was at Kansas City. The game was important because a win would ensure that the Bengals would keep the #3 seed as opposed to dropping to the #4 seed, but most coaches wouldn't have seen it as a must win."

To understand this absurd rambling, one must enter an alternate dimension, where roasted peanuts are the established currency, and cursing is a common way to answer the telephone.

"Not Marvin Lewis."

Lewis is a genius! What an amazing coach! He decided he didn't want to be in the same bracket as the all-world Indianapolis Colts! Man, it sure is good the Bengals weren't coached by an illiterate hippie, because they wouldn't have had a shot the next week. All praise Marvin Lewis, motivator extroardinaire.

"During the week preceding the game, Lewis was yelling at his team all week long."

Okay. I'm anal. Still, the sentence above looks like something my high school English teacher would use for Daily Oral Language.

"He was very upset by their performance against Buffalo and was pushing the team to play hard against Kansas City. Lewis didn't even rest any of his starters because he was so unhappy."

I remember how most football coaches handle these situations. They spend the week prior to the game sipping tequila, watching the Venture Brothers, and playing Pacman. I think everything's explained in that new NFL Head Coach game that inexplicably isn't available for the XBox360... because, you know, one wouldn't want a groundbreaking NFL game to actually be available on the NEW FREAKING GAME STATION!!!

Back to this insanity. So Marvin Lewis, coach of coaches, bringer of light, keeper of the keys of Riathlon, guardian of the Alter of Xonmu, didn't rest players before a big final game of the season against a hungry Kansas City team. I'm sure this motivational flurry provided an amazing display of football, which would be why KC Joyner decided that the Bengals were on the cusp of being the next dynasty.

"The plan didn't work, as Kansas City dominated the Bengals 37-3"

Hmmm?? What?? The Bengals didn't just lose, they got absolutely waxed, and this is the best example Joyner could come up with?

"... but that isn't the point."

Now I'm mad. That's exactly the point, you inebriated rhesus monkey. If you are going to praise Marvin Lewis as being a great motivator, you could at least use a moment where that motivation actually mattered. Lewis could have been replaced by the aforementioned hippie and the result would have been the same. The players could have been listening to Pearl Jam or Petra the entire week and the result would have been the same. They got smacked around, got it handed to them on a platter. This is not a success. This is a disaster.

"The point is that most coaches placed in Lewis's place would have rested their team or tried to keep their spirits up after the Buffalo debacle. Lewis realized that he has a very young team that was growing up quickly and he wanted to send them the message that more will be expected of them."

Just don't worry about actually winning... or coming within 30 points. Message across, loud and clear. Also, DOL alert again in that first sentence. "Placed in Lewis's place" has at least two HUGE no-no's. Who's editing this crap, Nate (albeit, a cheap shot to a good friend, but I've seen his writing... and he's having fun with his wife right now, so what the hell)?

"He will not let this team get complacent."

He just won't make them win, either. Last time I checked, winning was a bit more important that complacency. Maybe that's just me. Also, is there a stat for "complacency ratio", Mr. Football Scientist?

"The 2005 Bengals reminded me of the 1984 Chicago Bears. That bears team was a young, hard-hitting team with a bunch of dynamic players and characters, but they were not quite ready to win. It took another year of growth before they were able to fully tap into their abilities."

I'm getting woozy from reading this drivel. The Bears had a good Jim McMahon, Walter friggin' Payton, and Mike Singletary. They were already a well-rounded team. The problem is that the Bengals aren't, and with the type of offseason acquisitions, are actually farther away from making that happen.

First, one cannot discount the effect of adding so many "turds" as Pro Football Talk would say. The locker room is already like a powder keg. That's my non-statistical addition to this argument.

The stats still don't help Joyner's wackiness. Yes, the Bengals have assembled a tremendous offensive force, with Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and company ready to wreak havoc around the league for some time... they ranked 6th in Football Outsiders' offensive rankings. The defense is, charitably, the problem. They were ranked #24 on FO against the run. That is not good, and is probably (along with an early-season slew of interceptions) why the pass defense is actually ranked higher.

Look, the Bengals are a good team, well worth picking to win their division. However, to put them near dynasty status when there are probably at least three better teams in the AFC alone for the forseeable future is just plain ridiculous.

The Football Scientist would be better sticking to science, not baseless conjecture.

posted by Gavin @ 9:13 PM  0 comments

Thank You Training Camp Previews

Finally, back to some poor analysis of NFL teams! My heart would sing for joy if it wasn't burning from six spicy Sloppy Joe sandwiches in the past couple of days (slow cookers rule!).

From FoxSports.com and Sports XChange:

On Dallas:

For the first time since the days of Troy Aikman, the Cowboys enter a second straight season with no concerns about the quarterback position.

Drew Bledsoe is the man in Dallas. After completing 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,639 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, he more than proved Buffalo made a mistake in letting him go. Bledsoe still holds the ball too long and makes too many mistakes, including 17 interceptions last year. But he was also undone by poor blocking (49 sacks) and an inability to make plays on the outside. The explosive Owens should make him a better quarterback.

If your team has Drew Bledsoe at quarterback, one phrase you should never hear is that you now have no worries at that position. Even their own analysis talks about his poor decision making under pressure. Let me put it this way..... a team with an old Drew Bledsoe at quarterback is not going to win the Super Bowl. Not going to happen. Remember, Drew had a pretty doggone good first season in Buffalo. Remember season numero 2?

On the Giants:

(Brandon) Jacobs, a rookie last year who became the designated short-yardage and goal line ball carrier and got nine touchdowns. He had trouble with the playbook, especially blitz pickups, and worked all during the off-season with the coaching staff. He could be something special.

Or he could be, at best, T.J. Duckett, but stupider and more prone to fumbling. One of the two.

On the Eagles:

Strictly from a talent standpoint, difference-making Terrell Owens will be missed. But the Eagles feel they have a competent group of wideouts that will thrive in their spread-the-ball-around offense. Brown shined as a rookie, catching 43 passes, and is ready, willing and able to replace Owens as McNabb's go-to receiver. Pinkston, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury, is a vertical threat, but occasionally has displayed a lack of heart. Gaffney, is the wild card. He is an excellent route-runner who caught 55 passes for Houston last year and will be used mainly as the slot receiver in three-wide receiver sets.

So, you take away the best wide receiver in the game and that deduction merits one sentence? Second, my guess is that Brown didn't "shined" as a rookie. He, perhaps, SHONE, but that would take actual writing talent. Plus, 43 receptions isn't super-awesome. Sorry. Second, saying that Pinkston has occasionally displayed a lack of heart is like saying that Paris Hilton has occasionally been perceived as being loose. Finally, Gaffney is not going to be the solution to anyone's problems. He's a decent #3 receiver at best that can't create any openings for himself. Overall, this group is perhaps the main reason why the Eagles aren't making a great deal of noise this season.

Final thought: The only reason that the Eagles offense can be considered "spread it around" now is because T.O. and his 100 catches and 20 TD's are out the door. This was not a "spread it around" offense, it's an offense with no great players outside of McNabb, which necessitates spreading it around. The best offenses have great players, and THEN spread it around, a.k.a. Indy, Seattle, New England, and St. Louis.

On the Redskins:

However, Brunell endured a rocky second half and seven awful quarters in the playoffs. When his legs aren't right, neither is his arm. Can he have a strong full season at 36? Todd Collins, who knows Saunders' system cold from five years with the Chiefs, is insurance in case 2005 first-rounder Jason Campbell shows that he isn't quite ready to be the heir apparent during an extensive look this summer.

Answer to their first question: Probably not. 36 year old quarterbacks generally aren't the most reliable as the season rolls along. They seem to wear down due to the fact that they are older. Now, Brunell gets all his momentum and accuracy from throwing in motion. Logical conclusion: Redskins are boned from a contention standpoint. And, no, I don't think that Todd Collins (what?) is the answer. I don't care how many years he spent with Saunders. Hasselbeck had spent several years under Holmgren before he came to Seattle. He didn't succeed first time out, you know?

More to come, I am sure!

posted by colin_hesse @ 7:55 PM  0 comments

 


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