Friday, January 27, 2012

Now that is Fitting

What is fitting for your last day in not-so-balmy New Jersey before leaving for a new job in sunny Florida?

January cold foul weather, of course:

Weather delays Greg Schiano's press conference

Today’s press conference with new Bucs head coach Greg Schiano has been pushed back to 2 p.m. due to inclement weather in the Northeast.

I am thinking that it will take maybe a week of sand and surf in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, before the Bucs new head coach forgets that New Jersey is even a state.

Seventy-six degrees there tomorrow?

Congrats to Coach Schiano.

Monday, January 23, 2012

He Can Run?

Two weeks ago, I heard former Cowboys star and current NFL analyst Troy Aikman state that 49ers QB Alex Smith was as mobile as Packers star Aaron Rodgers.

I about fell out of my chair.

Alex Smith can run? 


I admit that I am a victim of East Coast bias--I don't see much of the teams on the West Coast and with the Niners not being very good until this year, I have not watched much of them.

Anyway, I visualized Alex Smith as a pocket passer and not a running threat.

Wow, was I wrong.  He is fast and moved around especially well in his two playoff games.

After watching those Niners a few times this year, I think the future looks bright in SF because they have:

--A fiery motivator as a coach.

--A mobile QB who can throw, and only runs when he has to.

--Two good running backs

--An offensive line that is comprised of top draft picks.

--And, a talented defense that was ranked #1 this year in the NFC for total yards.

Now, I can look forward to another team pounding my Bucs for years to come.

And yes, after being rejected by the Ducks top man (Chip Kelly), the Buccaneers are still searching for a head coach.   

Friday, January 20, 2012

Going to the Game

I am happy for those fans who enjoy attending NFL games, but don't expect me to join the club.

As a "television-only" game viewer, I:

--Don't worry about how much money I spent on tickets, gas, food, parking, etc.

--Stock my fridge with my choice of food and beverage;

--Don't have to stand in line to for concessions or to visit the bathroom;

--Always have a reserved parking place that is a stone's throw--my garage to the comfortable recliner or couch;

--Enjoy the game in a temperature-controlled climate--no sitting in an icy wind for me; and,

--The family can cheer for whatever team without the opportunity to learn any "new driving words" like was this family's experience (this is the text of a letter he wrote to the editor of the popular SF newspaper):

Ugly side of 49ers’ big game, Letters to the editor, Jan. 17

I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 25 years but have remained a staunch Saints fan with close ties to New Orleans. My family still lives in New Orleans and has held our season tickets since 1967.

I “get” the emotion of the game, the moment and the enthusiasm of the 49er fans.Despite the extraordinary setting at the ’Stick, we were shocked by the hostility, vulgarity and intimidation that rained down on me and my two teenage daughters from the moment we stepped into the parking lots.

Yes, we were proudly wearing our Saints colors; that’s what loyal fans do. And yes, we expected some good-natured jeering.

We had vulgarities screamed at us repeatedly in the parking lots and literally nonstop by the hooligans around us in the stands. While walking through the lots we had footballs thrown at us, guys screaming curses in our faces...

We finally took to shadowing two cops that were strolling through the lots until we dashed for what we thought would be the relative sanity of the stadium.

The stadium was no better. Every other word from dozens of fans around us was an f-bomb shouted at the top of their lungs. There were seven or eight large 30- to 35-year-old guys directly behind us who cursed and threatened us the entire game.

After one string of profanities I turned around to look at them and the most obnoxious and combative of the bunch yelled, “Do not turn around again! Do not ever turn around again” and punctuated it with a profanity.

They used gay slurs repeatedly at the husband of a middle-aged couple in front of us, the only other Saints fan in our area, and called his wife a bitch.

One of my daughters asked me, “Why don’t you do something, Daddy?”

Do what? Fight 10 guys, call/text security when all those guys behind me would know who would have fingered them?
Leave early? We almost did.

The hostility and threats of violence were a constant throughout our experience.

It appeared to be ingrained in the fans’ culture, similar to the hooliganism that destroyed the reputation of English soccer. The long wait for the playoffs, the excitement of a big game? No excuse.

I’ve been to big games in venues around the world and believe me, I’ve been a Saints fan my whole life so I certainly know about long playoff waits.

The Vikings fans in the tailgate parties before the NFC championship game were eating crayfish and dancing along with the Saints fans — they weren’t threatened, they were having a great time.

Every 49ers fan, the team and it’s owners should be ashamed and embarrassed to wear the red and gold today. They won the game but are losers in every other way.

But the best part is that if the game is a blowout, we can easily transition into another activity--our youngest can have Blues Clues going on the DVD player in 30 seconds or less.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Three Cheers for the Niners

No way I would have guessed that Alex Smith and Eli Manning would join Tom Brady as the best QBs this weekend.

Though I was for the Saints, I had to applaud the winning pass from Smith to TE Davis in the end zone.  He courageously zipped the ball in traffic before Davis broke--a play that could have easily been tipped and intercepted if the pass was not in that small completion window.

Congrats to the 49ers.

And, though I appreciate that Hakeem Nicks has supported my argument in that he has the potential to be a dominant fantasy receiver with his outstanding playoff performance (over 250 yards and 4 TDs receiving), I keep thinking: why could you not score like this consistently during the regular season? 

I mean being the #11 overall receiver is good, but my fantasy team sure could have used that production.

Oh well. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Early Mock

Andrew Perloff of Sports Illustrated just released his first version of the NFL's Mock Draft.

Yes, this is what all of us fans for loser teams (like my Bucs) do during the NFL Playoffs--think about how to get better players for next season.

Anyway, Andrew has the first five selections like this:

1) Colts: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford

2) Browns (trade w/Rams): QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor

3) Vikings: T Matt Kalil, USC

4) Rams (trade w/Browns): WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma St.

5) Buccaneers: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU

The most intriguing pick this year appears to be the Rams and their #2.

They already have a QB they like in Sam Bradford, and will have a new head coach and staff.

A new regime that would likely love to trade that high pick for a package of other picks and starting players.

Griffin III is a hot item right now, and evidently the talent-level of the QB prospects drops considerably after Luck and RGIII are taken.

Combine this with the NFL rookie salary cap, and the Rams should get some very good offers.

I understand Perloff's argument, but am not sure if the lowly Browns will make that trade after the big money Redskins and Dolphins start bidding up the price.

I expect NFL owners to be more vocal than ever on drafting players after the Jags passed on Tim Tebow and he turned into a revenue generating machine in Denver.

I think after all the hype, RGIII could be marketed to a win-hungry fan base in one of those cities--putting bottoms in stadium seats.

One thing is certain, the Rams will enjoy all of the attention from this year's draft.


As for the Bucs, they have spent an abundance of high picks over the last few drafts on the defensive line and still can't stop anyone. 

Drafting a CB would make sense, but they have so many holes to fill, it will be interesting to see what direction they go.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Looking at the games for this week's Wildcard Weekend, I think that each underdog could reaonably pull the upset.

Remember how the heavily favored Saints bumbled and stumbled against the Seahawks last year in the playoffs?  The Lions have much better talent on offense (ok, outside of Marshawn Lynch), and I think their speed defense plays well in domes; especially their d-line.

This isn't so much about the Broncos, which is good since they are playing poorly, but more about the Steelers.  Pittsburgh is on the road in the thin air of Denver.  They will be without three important starters including their fantastic C Maurkice Pouncey.   QB Big Ben is banged up, not moving well, and the Steelers' running game has struggled all season--making them a throwing team.  All this could help the Broncos defense generate several much-needed turnovers.  Turnovers that have been missing during their losing streak.

I did not see the Packers lose to the Chiefs, but I did see the Falcons confuse and bother Aaron Rodgers for a half earlier this year.  They could do the same to Eli Manning.  The defense was good in 2010-2011, but has yet to live up to potential this season.  There is nothing wrong with the high-powered Falcons offense, and there is no snow in the New York forecast to slow the game down.  Will the Giants' defensive line continue to play well?  If they don't the Falcons could score 30.

Despite battling the flu this week, QB Andy Dalton will be well rested for this week's game.  They could have beaten a very good Ravens team last week, they just unraveled late in the game.  A.J. Green seems to always be open, and the presence of Cedric Benson gives the team a consistent running game.  And did you see who the Texans' QB is?  The team with a good defense but zero playoff experience will be starting former third-stringer and fifth round draft pick T.J Yates--and he'll be playing with a bad shoulder.


So pick all of these teams to win this weekend.

Just joking--don't.

Favorites are favorites for a reason.

If I had to pick one, contingent upon Dalton feeling better, I'd go with Cincinnati upsetting the Texans.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Whether you played football at the collegiate level or just on a little league team, one issue that you'll have with professional football players is that they don't have good fundamentals. 

The tackling in the NFL is, in general, lousy.  For some reason, defenders often forget they have arms and just bounce off ball carriers barely slowing them down.

Also, players don't apply basic skills properly like recovering a fumble.

Cowboys defensive back Alan Ball demonstrated my point on Sunday night. 

While covering a punt on special teams, the Giants return man fumbled, and Ball muffed a chance to easily recover the ball. 

Instead of slowing, grasping the loose ball with his hands and then lying down to cradle it with his body, he tries the full-speed scoop that quickly transforms into the oops "I overran the ball and now I am rolling with it". 

The correct technique is something that should have been second nature for a pro like Ball.  Supported by a drill that every coach from little league on up uses--tossing footballs on the ground and having players recover and protect the ball correctly.

Instead, Ball missed the chance, the Giants retained possession and went on to win easily.

Now, the Cowboys and their fans have a whole off-season to think about fundamentals and the "what-could have-beens."

And, as a lowly Buccaneer fan, I can relate. 

You can see Ball's missed fumble recovery, by going here (it starts around the 53 second mark of the video).