Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Real Life Horror

Taking a moment to recognize Randall Cunningham and the living nightmare he's enduring. As a father of two myself, I'm not sure I can think of anything worse than outliving one of my children.

So just a quick call out to a classy individual that played the game, and wishing the best for him and his family through this time.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stumbling into Competence

The Oakland Raiders have been the model of an incompetent NFL franchise for the last decade. Al Davis has been called everything between senile and a cancer, and in at least one case, both. They held the worst NFL record for a five year stretch after losing the '02/'03 Superbowl, and have yet to win more than five games in a season since that season.

And yet, all of a sudden, in one off-season, they look like a team not only interested in contending, but smart enough to actually build a contender. Now admittedly, Jim's already blogged about this. But let's take a deeper look at how they're doing it the right way.

For now, at least, the coaching Merry-Go-Round seems to be on hold.
Tom Cable was on thin ice. He was virtually every media-mogul's top "Hot Seat" candidate going into last season. The punching incident aside, Cable looked like a questionable hire when made, but has seemed to be a legitimate coach with the ability to get his players to respond. He toed the company line and went along with cutting Garcia to keep Russell the unquestioned guy under center, and it was assumed he'd get the ax and Russell would get to continue anchoring the team at the bottom of the ocean despite Cable benching Russell about half way through the season. Once it was learned which of them was really getting shown the door, the Raiders were truly showing they might not be as dumb as everyone assumed.

But not just that, they signed former Ravens QB coach Hue Jackson in what could be a terrific move. Jackson did a terrific job with Joe Flacco, and was a fairly hot commodity this off-season. Many in Baltimore hoped he could fill in at OC if Cam wound up with another head coaching gig in the near future.

They befuddled the draftniks with a solid draft class.
I lost count of the number of mock drafts that had the Raiders picking Bruce Campbell at #8 overall. "Love the guy with the measurables" was the common statement. And they did draft him with the 8th pick...of the 4th round. Before him, they took the draft's best LB Rolando McClain and solid DT Lamarr Houston to shore up what was a horrendous run defense, and Jared Veldheer as well to give them a pair of mid-round high-risk, high-reward prospects on an offensive line that Football Outsiders ranked as 23rd in run blocking and 31st in pass blocking and desperately needs some help. Across the board they got players that both filled needs and represented solid value.

They've cut loose the dead weight.
Google "JaMarcus Russell biggest bust ever" and you get over 1.1 million hits. Now, this may not say all that much, given that googling "Peyton Manning biggest bust ever" gives almost 4 million hits. But the difference is that there's legitimate discussion of whether Russell's the biggest of all time. Finally shedding him has truly turned around the biggest negative this team had over the past few years. In addition to releasing Russell, they also cut Cornell Green and Gerrard Warren.

They've retained good talent, and brought in solid players.
Last year, Patrick blogged what we were all thinking, that Richard Seymour would represent a "one year rental" for the Raiders as he would inevitably go elsewhere after another dismal '09 season. While he hasn't signed a long term extension, he has already signed his franchise tender and will be back for another season. To further plug up their NFL third worst run defense, they brought in Kamerion Wimbley for an undisclosed pick from Cleveland and recently signed former two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle John Henderson.

In addition, they've addressed their weakest position - quarterback - by bringing in two players at least capable of playing the position better than Russell. Kyle Boller certainly isn't a good starting quarterback, but he does at least qualify as a capable backup. And while I'm not a Jason Campbell fan, I do believe he can play quarterback at least at a mediocre level. Over the past two seasons, he's completed 63.3% of his passes, thrown 1.6 TDs per INT and thrown for 6.8 YPA. They aren't numbers that'll ever put him in the top ten at the position. But he brings competence and - dare we speak it - stability to a position that has been lacking it since Rich Gannon's magical emergence from journeyman to Superbowl quarterback. I don't believe Campbell will morph in the same fashion, but I do believe he'll provide the team with solid play under center, which by itself could lead them to drafting in the bottom half of the draft rounds for the first time in years.

With all of these off-season moves, the Raiders may have taken themselves from laughing stock to contenders. They're certainly in the right division for it. San Diego no longer has a strangle-hold on things, as Tomlinson has disappeared (figuratively at first, literally more recently) and Vince Jackson threatens not to join the team until the second half of the season. And between the Chiefs who barely look like they're pretending to care about winning, and the Broncos who look like they care but don't look like they've got a clue how to do so (someone should tell McDaniels that they don't give out playoff spots based on which team has the roster with the highest moral standards), there doesn't look to be much standing in their way as the team that can give the Chargers a run for their money.

Last year they certainly lost their fair share of ugly games. But they also played the Chargers tough twice, and beat the Steelers and Bengals while both were making playoff runs, not to mention gave the Ravens a scare until Russell was forced into action and essentially closed that door. I wrote somewhere that I can't remember and can't find back after Russell cost them their first match vs. SD that this was a team a quarterback away from contending for the division. This off-season, they've done far more than that to allow themselves that opportunity.

It should be interesting to see if it comes to fruition.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bulger, Martz and not wanting to disturb Cutler

Over on the Ravens site I read, the admin noted that it was interesting the Bears - with Martz, wh has a connection with Bulger - weren't interested in him.

"It’s a bit interesting that the Chicago Bears didn’t make a play for Marc Bulger. Given Bulger’s ties to Mike Martz one might safely conclude that the fit was a natural. Could Martz know something that the Ravens don’t?"

I'm actually not convinced this was anything more than a play to keep from disturbing Cutler. Let's think back to a year and a half ago, when Josh McDaniels apparently inquired about Matt Cassel. We all remember the subsequent Cutler hissy-fit, right? A prolonged, ugly fight developed which resulted in Cutler crying his way out of town where the Broncos salvaged the situation by turning the guy who led the NFL in INTs last year into Kyle Orton, Knowshon Moreno, a complicated set of traded picks that probably just resulted in some portion of the Tim Tebow pick and maybe a handful of other stuff. Neither team made out particularly well in the deal although we can probably best say the Broncos got screwed least.

Bottom line though, bringing Bulger into Chicago would have brought about questions of whether or not Cutler was going to get pushed for his starting job. We can safely assume Cutler doesn't react well to being pushed for his job, and the Bears aren't likely to trade a guy they just extended to 2013 for $30MM. So the lack of even inquiry there is probably more due to not wanting to rock the boat than anything else.

Bulger, on the other hand, brings immediate legitimacy to the Ravens backup QB spot. Word was that Flacco was actually more hurt than many were led to believe last year, and that if they were confident at all in their backup QBs, they'd have sat him for a couple games to let him heal. The Ravens almost seem to be taking an "all in" attitude toward this season. They've beefed up their weakest position by bringing in Boldin and Stallworth (and retaining Mason). And now they've added significant depth where they had poor depth prior to this year; both by signing Bulger at QB, and by signing Ken Hamlin and Walt Harris in their defensive backfield. It could be argued Harris and Hamlin may be a move to protect whether or not Ed Reed will retire, but that still seems unlikely at least for now. But either way, they've added some significant pieces to a roster that has already taken them to three playoff game wins the previous two seasons. They clearly seem to be gearing up for a major push this season.

I actually somewhat wonder how much may be related to wanting to win prior to the prospective lock-out...


Friday, June 25, 2010

Cloudy Minds Make Slow Feet

I've seen this video at a couple of blogs now. It is an interesting breakdown of Gus Malzahn's offense at Auburn. Malzahn's version of the spread is much more run-dependent and play action-based than those that came before. Indeed, the offense lines up in a pro set with the quarterback under center on every play, a significant departure from the current popularity of the shotgun. Malzahn's offense combines elements of the single wing with ample misdirection, on one play you will see his opponent's (Alabama's) outside linebackers each get sucked to the middle and swallowed up, as each is deceived into believing the play is going to the opposite side of the field.

One of the most brilliant, particularly in its simplicity, strategies of Malzahn is how quickly the offense lines up and snaps the ball out of the huddle. 4 seconds from huddle to snap is the goal so there is simply no time for defensive adjustment.

Chris Brown at Smart Football broke down Malzahn's offense prior to his first season at Auburn

When Auburn hired Malzahn I described his philosophy, which can be easily gleaned from the forthright title of his book, The Hurry-Up, No-Huddle: An Offensive Philosophy. As I said before, he is overall less concerned with the specific Xs and Os in employ than with the speed at which the offense goes:

There are a few differences here between Malzahn's offense and what Franklin and Tuberville tried to do (or said they were trying to do). The biggest, I'd say, is that Malzahn's spread is not exactly like other spreads, whether pass-first ones like the Airraid or run-heavy spreads like Urban Meyer's or Rich Rodriguez's. That's because the schemes are simple - very, very simple - and the core of the offense is not even about schemes: it's about tempo. . . .

[N]obody does what Malzahn does. If some no-huddle teams, like Franklin's, are light-speed, then Malzahn wants to spend the entire game in something akin to "ludicrous speed."
Malzahn is the architect of the Wildcat, which he installed at Arkansas under Houston Nutt, and then in one season as Tulsa's OC the team's offense improved by 11 points per game and 21 spots to 10th in the country. In his first year at Auburn the offense improved from 17 ppg to 33 ppg, 20th in the country.

Malzahn has never actually been in one spot long enough to recruit players who fit his system. God help us all once he is.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Huh. Bulger.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Yahoo Ranks the O-lines

Article by Jason Cole:
O-line rankings: Talent and depth rare finds

The rankings are odd, a mix of the run & pass-blocking efficiency rankings from Football Outsiders, with Cole's own gut feel about who should move up or down. Still enjoyable reading, for the slowest time of the year.

One example of the oddness, the Ravens O-line is ranked way, way too high. Cole writes, “At a time when pass protection is so critical, the Ravens were below average last season” – and then ranks the Ravens 3rd! Huh? Turns out he likes Michael Oher a lot, believes Joe Flacco and the new receivers will take a big step forward (which would help the pass-blocking), and gives the Ravens some credit for continuity from last season (as opposed to the 2 new starters last year). “There is reason to believe improvement will be made.”

Another oddness on the page, and this is not Cole's fault, is to read this in the article:

“Because depth is so important, the Saints have resisted trading tackle Jammal Brown”
while at the bottom of the page there's a link to news about Brown being traded to the Skins. Ah, the information age.

How about the Skins??!? Cole ranks their line 29th, but that's before the trade. Isn't their line suddenly in the top half of the league? A lot depends on Brown's return from the injury, and on the development of Trent Williams. But they have three new starters from last year. At the tackles, Williams & Brown: one of them a top-5 draft pick, the other a 2-time Pro Bowler in four seasons of play, available for cheap because he missed a year for injury. Professionals at the guards, in Artis Hicks and Derrick Dockery. Ex-Raven Casey Rabach at center, one that got away from Ozzie a few years ago. Not to mention what Cole describes as “the organized, demanding coaching of Mike Shanahan,” who may not be great at personnel but who sure as hell can coax efficient play out of an offensive unit.

I'm not sure I'm emotionally ready for the Redskins to have a decent squad. But maybe I better get ready. They have had a brilliant offseason. Not just “by Redskins standards,” I mean overall. Their offense will be completely overhauled when it takes the field Sept 12.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interesting Take From An Unexpected Source

I don't typically go to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle for cutting edge football analysis, but the internet being a funny thing led me directly there.

The tectonic shifts in the college sports landscape turned out not to be so massive after all. Just a couple of tremors, as it turns out. And here's the truly ironic -- and potentially damaging -- aspect to those who follow and love the MWC. The aftershocks might hurt it the most.

In the span of five days, it certainly looks like the MWC has gone from a position of strength and prosperity to one where its future is now, like the recent weather, cloudy and rainy.

When Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State chose to stay with the Big XII, the first conference to feel the instant flop sweat was the Pac-10. Like the MWC, the Pac-10 was practically gloating late last week after announcing that Colorado had made the jump west.

That was the first step, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said, in what would be the formation of the super power Pac-16. Come on in Texas, Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and A&M, the water's great over here.

It appears, however, that the western superpower found its kryptonite -- money.

The remaining Big XII schools came up with a plan to offer Texas so much money there's no way it could refuse to stay.

Take the majority of the conference's revenue sharing pot? Sure.

Start your own TV network and keep all the money? Why not?

Go ahead, build a bigger gap between the rest of the league when it comes to money. That's OK, we see the light.

What this conference shakeup has proven is who has the most power in the college sports landscape right now -- the Longhorns.

What somehow seems to be overlooked in much of this is that this leaves the WAC moribund from a football perspective. As a D-I conference it is difficult to argue that they are even better than the Sunbelt any more. Sagarin's final ratings for 2009 put the WAC at 65.52 and the Sunbelt at 58.28 but the difference between the two was almost entirely due to Boise State. The few remaining WAC schools with any kind of football credibility - Fresno St. and Nevada - are likely weighing their options carefully now. It's hard to believe that only 11 years ago the WAC had 16 schools.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Heavens To Betsy! Pretty Please Come To My OTA!

While this is a slightly stale topic, I've been thinking a bit about this ever since I read that Brad Childress was upset that Adrian Peterson was skipping the OTAs. For perspective on the Vikings I typically try to see what Pacifist Viking has to say. He doesn't disappoint here

Where I agree is that if Childress is going to have double-standards for superstars, he should probably consider Adrian Peterson a superstar worthy of the double-standard. Of course, the Vikings have so many legitimate studs, the concern about a slippery slope may be valid.

It's a dangerous game a coach plays, balancing the egos to give the team optimum performance. If Childress took a hard line on Favre's absence, and that somehow contributed to Favre deciding not to come back in 2010, the team would not be better off. But if Childress says, "Ah, hell, I'm letting Favre do whatever he wants, so I should probably go ahead and let all the other players get away with skipping OTAs too, because I have to be consistent," then the team would not be better off either. Certainly things can go wrong when the coach makes these judgment calls, and he can be wrong. Maybe he has a feel for his team and understands how players feel and respond to Favre's absence, and maybe he doesn't.

My perspective on this is a bit different. To me the whole concept of 'it's optional but really isn't optional' respecting OTAs is borderline absurd. Before the mid '90s the minicamps were non stories. I understand that the recent OTA that Peterson missed was mandatory and that he will probably face a fine for missing it, but I hardly think this is relevant.

I've forgotten which celebrated coach said 'this is where the job's are', a singular quote that changed OTA participation from mostly optional to borderline mandatory. I am on board with this concept for maybe 65 players on the 80 man roster, the bulk of the team is either fighting for playing time, a roster spot, working back from an injury or learning a new system. But that leaves 10-15 guys who aren't and these guys should be wrapped in bubble wrap until late August.

Starting running backs, and most particularly Adrian Peterson have no business attending OTAs. There is nothing to be gained by having Adrian Peterson participate in team drills in June. Already Rod Hood and Marlin Jackson have been lost for the season due to injuries at OTAs, and we can expect that number to double or treble by the middle of summer. Vishnu forbid that Childress wins his argument and then loses his franchise.

This isn't just about Adrian Peterson, it is about Jackson too. His injury makes the Eagle secondary desperately thin. As a player new to the team his participation was understandable and I'm not faulting Andy Reid for putting him out there, but he is a great example of why a team should put it's bona fide starters on ice until late summer, double standards be danged.


Mike Preston is a moron

In this episode of Mike Preston is a moron

Well first let me say that I've been disappointed in material from Preston's columns for the past several months. Either he's getting smarter or I'm getting dumber. I thought his columns from this past season pretty much all made sense. It's gotten so bad, that I'm thinking of retiring this feature. This little tidbit is a slim reed to hang on; but football season is coming up, and I think Preston deserves some more chances.

In this episode of Mike Preston is a moron,
Mike argues that Mark Clayton can still produce for the Ravens:

Clayton's best position is in the slot
Clayton, though, can still be productive if the Ravens use him wisely. ... The Ravens have to use him just like they use running back Ray Rice. They need to get Clayton the ball in space, and let him run. He can be an elusive runner in the open field, and can be productive if Cameron uses him properly in the slot.
Wait, what? Slot receivers operate in space? Don't slot receivers operate in the most crowded part of the field: where all the D-linemen and linebackers are? The way Wes Welker of the Patriots works? Wasn't Mark Clayton more likely to operate "in space" when he was lined up on the outside as one of the wideouts?

I guess you can see where Preston is going with this. Clayton can make plays if you can get him the ball on short dump-offs etc and let him run; as opposed to running deep patterns against cornerbacks. But geez, if you're going to be a professional writer, can't you spend an extra couple of sentences to make clear to the reader what you're thinking? I can't be around all the time to bail you out, Mike.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Conflict of Disinterest

I am bemused by all the high-minded hand-wringing over Jay Glazer and his "conflict of interest" in covering the NFL. Have you seen this?

Fox’s Glazer Straddles Jobs as N.F.L. Reporter and Trainer

Jay Glazer is an “NFL Insider” for FoxSports; he's a sports reporter. And then he has a side business where he and his business partner Randy “The Natural” Couture train NFL players using MMA methodologies. From the NYT link above:

He and Couture have developed position-specific exercises to improve players’ leverage, endurance and flexibility. Current and former clients include the Atlanta Falcons, the St. Louis Rams, Chris Long, Ryan Grant, Patrick Willis, Keith Rivers, Matt Leinart and Jared Allen. Glazer hopes to bring in more football players and athletes from other sports. “We want to revolutionize athletic training,” he said.
MMA-style training is a natural for NFL players, who want to train hard and gain an advantage. When you bring Randy Couture to the party, pro athletes are going to take an interest. But does this pose a problem for Glazer's NFL reporting? In the article linked above, the NYT delicately points out:
Glazer’s arrangement is unusual, at best, and raises questions about how he balances his competing interests. While some N.F.L. reporters and sportscasters cover the sport for more than one news media outlet, Glazer reports on some of the same players and teams who pay him for his training expertise. ... Bob Steele, an ethics expert at the Poynter Institute, said Glazer’s entangled roles created “competing loyalties.” He added: “You can only scrutinize what he reports. But you can’t scrutinize what he does not report, so we don’t know what he didn’t ask an athlete.”
Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman, less delicate than the Gray Lady, goes ballistic:
The Jay Glazer Rules
...turned my stomach. When he’s not reporting on NFL players and teams, Glazer, ahem, works for NFL players and teams. Literally. ...
This, journalistically, is a joke. An embarrassing, pathetic, worst-of-its-kind joke.
Glazer, on the other hand, accepts money from the very people he’s covering. One minute he’s helping Brian Cushing become a better athlete, the next he’s supposed to be telling us all he knows about the man—warts included. As clients, these players certainly expect—and receive—a high level of confidentiality. To work out under someone’s watch is to provide him with incredible access; access you don’t want displayed to the public. So what if Glazer hears Leinart calling a hooker? What if he sees Cushing (funny example) poppin ‘roids? What if he doesn’t think Grant is an especially hard worker? Does he sleep on the information, or does he ruin his ties with the players by reporting it? The answer is obvious: He sleeps on it.
Wow, what a controversy.

I wonder if “sports journalists” are at all surprised & disappointed at the blasé response to this tempest in a teapot? I think that most fans, without knowing any specific shortcomings, understand very well that sports reporters are not Woodward and Bernstein. For all their journalistic airs, what they do is not the same sacred exercise of the Fourth Estate that they studied in college.

What's most striking is not Glazer's arrangement, but Pearlman's hypocrisy. Blogger Brooks articulates a much more even-handed view:
Jay Glazer: We Fear What We Don’t Understand
Longtime Pearlman Sports Illustrated co-worker and perhaps the most prominent writer to ever work for the magazine, Rick Reilly, has a history of taking money from athletes for services rendered. In ‘91, Reilly co-authored Wayne Gretzky’s autobiography. In ‘95, Reilly co-authored a book with Charles Barkley about the “wit and wisdom” of the NBA player. In ‘88 Reilly co-authored Brian Bosworth’s autobiography. ... The books were all published while Gretzky, Barkley and Bosworth were still active professional athletes. ... SI baseball reporter Tom Verducci wrote a book with Joe Torre published last year about Torre’s experience managing the Yankees. ...
not a day goes by that I couldn’t cite countless conflicts of interest at the sports media leader, ESPN. Not to mention the NFL-owned and operated NFL Network. In the case of ESPN, the network rakes in hundreds of millions in revenue and branding benefits from the same league that it supposedly objectively covers - the NFL...
I’ve worked in main sports media for 16 years and have covered it daily while running this site for over nine years. From that experience, I can confirm that there isn’t a single sports media organization without a significant conflict of interest. Dealing with those conflicts is what distinguishes genuine reporters from bought-off, agenda-driven hacks.
Brooks stops short of laying out the case for how completely sold-out most sports reporters are. One online forum goes a bit further:
There are guys at ESPN who share agents with the athletes and the coaches they cover. There are guys at ESPN who are very close friends with the athletes, the agents and the coaches they cover.
Do I have a problem with Glazer's side business? Absolutely, but to single him out on this isn't right.
The business with shared agents is something that a fan or reader might never, ever know about. But there are corporate relationships that are obvious to any fan who turns on a TV.
  • CBS, Fox and ESPN pay a combined $4 billion a year for TV rights to air NFL games. How much objective analysis do you hear on CBS & Fox & the four-letter about the American Needle vs NFL Supreme Court case? Drew Brees is writing Op-Ed's in the Washington Post, but it isn't “news”? Come on. How much discussion do you hear on those networks about football-related concussions, and post-football dementia?
  • NBC pays the International Olympic Committee something on the order of $2 billion for the rights to broadcast the Winter Olympics. How much investigative reporting are we going to see on NBC about that legendarily corrupt organization, the IOC?
  • CBS, Turner, and the NCAA recently agreed to a $10.8 billion extension on their deal for CBS to broadcast the mens basketball tournament thru 2024. How vigorous is the discussion on CBS going to be about graduation rates of basketball players, and academic reform, and player stipends, etc? Is Dick Vitale suddenly going to start being critical of Duke?
Jeff Pearlman may try to tell us it's not true that money talk$, but that will be a tough sell.

But actually, sports journalists are ethically compromised long before corporate interests become a factor. That is because the #1 thing a sports journalist has to peddle is access. Either the athletes and coaches and GM's will talk to them, and give them something to report – or they won't. Sports fans desiring information are subject to the whims of journalists who may be soft(er) on the guys who will talk to them, and rough on the guys who don't. Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy puts it very succinctly:
“No. 1, I'm not worried about my job security, and I'm even less worried about what Michael Wilbon would think about anything,” Van Gundy said. “He's just ... a talking head. I have refused to be on PTI [Wilbon's television show] for years, for five years. I follow that stuff. If you go on guys' shows, they don't criticize you. If you won't go on their show, they do. That stuff is never known. There's a lack of integrity in that business.”
Tom Boswell, among the most respected sports columnists in the country, wrote about this long ago. Forgive the vagueness of this please: I'm going to try to get it from memory. This appeared in an essay in one of his first two books, either How Life Imitates the World Series or Why Time Begins on Opening Day. He's discussing the daily ins-and-outs of covering a baseball team, and how the running of the tape recorder helps maintain some of the professional distance between player and reporter. But sometimes a player will blunder into saying something he didn't mean to, and will exclaim "You can't print that!" Boswell writes that this usually makes for an hour of moral drama on Lou Grant, but he usually shuts off the recorder and discusses it with the player. Boswell goes on to say that usually the thing the player is concerned about is something Boswell wouldn't bother writing about anyway – something of little interest to the general public, like a stupid argument with another player. But sometimes it is something worth writing about, in which case Boz lets the player have another crack at a quote he can use.

Is this a betrayal of journalism? Sports beat reporters travel with the team; they have to rub shoulders with the players for six to eight months of the year, in baseball and football (longer, in pro basketball). It seems professional to me, not to burn access over stupid stuff: otherwise you won't be useful to anyone. Every sports reporter decides, among all the information he is exposed to, what to report and what to save. What's more pathetic: Tom Boswell giving some young player another chance at a quote, or Peter King name-dropping all the players & coaches whose cell number he has? Let's not even talk about Chris Mortensen.

Since when did we come to expect that a sports reporter is “supposed to be telling us all he knows about the man,” in Pearlman's phrase? Nobody expects that. In the first place, there are space constraints; reporters are supposed to be punchy and concise, tell what's important. In the second place, the discretion of the reporters covering Babe Ruth and John F Kennedy are famous: we are no longer stupid enough to trust reporters to give us the whole story, if we ever were. In the real world, a sports fan knows that a certain amount of the iceberg is hidden; and only when a player crosses the line in a truly Roethlisberger-esque way will we ever get a real exposé on him.

Anyway: if it's a problem that Jay Glazer has a professional relationship with some teams & players, then why on earth do sports news organizations label their guys as “Insiders”??? They all but advertise that such a relationship exists; suddenly it's a problem when one of their guys actually gets inside?

Here's the bottom line. Sports reporters are essentially entertainers. What they do is not important in the world.

I mean, it's important to me. I'm dying to know about Joe Flacco working with a baseball pitching coach this offseason, and Ray Rice's training regimen, and whether Fabian Washington & Ladarious Webb are on-schedule to return this season. I need the work product of sports reporters and columnists, because I'm a fan and I crave it. What does Cam Cameron think we need to do to move the ball against the Jets in the season opener? TELL ME!!!!!!!

But a noble profession? It's nice to see sports journalists aspire to a professional standard of ethics. But let's not get delusions of grandeur about the job.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dominoes Falling

Well, we've all been busy this off-season with non-football stuff. Once the season is ready to spin up again hopefully we'll be far more regular at posting again.

Anyway, the Big-10 has kicked off quite a CFB storm, haven't they? The death of the Big-12 seems imminent with news this week of Colorado jumping to the Pac and Nebraska's likely move to the B10. We can't expect these to be the last moves, this is likely just beginning. And all told, the result could be some pretty massive reallignment.

Here's a really good read from Joe Posnanski about the history of the Big 12 and what ultimately may have come about to destroy this thing. The earthquake here has only started, but the aftershocks could continue for quite some time. The landscape of college sports is changing, and it'll be interesting to see where it all finally lands.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Justin Forsett: Ferrari

iverson2169 wrote an insightful article at FieldGulls which ultimately compares Forsett to a Ferrari. I really don't know if it is accurate, he could have argued 'Winnebago' and I would be just about as clueless. Certainly a good read.

spoiler: McFadden is a Corvette.

The NFL is far more akin to an F1 circuit than a Nascar oval. The winding "lanes" created by an NFL offensive line, require the breaking and torque of a Ferrari, far more often than the straight line displacement of a Corvette. For a team running a West Coast Offense, the ability to get to the second and third tier consistently (even if not past it), is much more important than the ability to breakaway with top end horsepower "every once in awhile".

The analogies made above are apparent when watching the video. You simply won't see more functional "torque" out of a player than Forsett. From the backfield to the second level, there are very few NFL backs that can compete. This is why Forsett is so effective running the ball. Although his overall top speed is much slower than even many LB's (4.65 & 4.73), he gets to that top speed much faster than everyone else. This is functional speed. This is Football speed.


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