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March 4, 2008

Our Powers Combined

It’s never too early to start talking about football.

Meet The SpartansScary Movie VIII: if Internet pervs can cackle over Britney Spears’ declining career in the hopes that she’ll go topless when she hits bottom, then sports nerds can wait for the day that Brady Quinn appears in a Wayans Bros. movie, signalling his own demise. Quinn, if you’ll recall, held out last season (after the Browns bent over backwards to draft him) and held a clipboard for fifteen weeks. He’s apparently still fighting for the starting job this year. I think “second string for the Cleveland Browns” has become my new euphemism for “surprisingly bad.”

Dominique Rogers-CromartieLines and Corners: The NFL combine has come and gone. The story this year: linebacks and cornerbacks. Scouts oohed over the raw speed of Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Leodis McKelvin and aahed over the massive power of Jordan Dizon, Cliff Avril and Geno Hayes. Apparently someone watched a game this past February and noted that Defense Wins Championships.

Baltimore RavensAs Of Someone Gently Rapping: Speaking of the only championship in the last decade owed entirely to defensive play, the Ravens are looking to buy! CBs Chris McAllister and Samari Rolle look pretty shaky this season – the former’s coming off of knee surgery; the latter, a mild case of epilepsy. Cromartie’s unlikely to fall to the #8 slot – this is a hot year for cornerbacks – but McKelvin might, or Mike Jenkins out of South Florida. The Ravens already have some decent tools on the offense, like a Heisman-winning QB ready to step into McNair’s ratty slippers. Shore up the D and the AFC North might be a place to play again.

January 8, 2008

2007: That Was The Year That Was

Now that the regular football season is over, it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball of, er, the past and see how my many predictions panned out.

Named after the Michael Jackson song, of courseRavens Draft Day Roundup (May 1 ’07): I predicted good things of Yamon Figurs (lots of punt returns for TDs) and Troy Smith (Heisman winning QB; potential replacement for McNair). Figurs posted 1138 yards on kickoff returns with an average of 24.7 yards per carry. This put him in the top 10 for the year.

Troy Smith didn’t start a lot of games, but he finally showed us something against the Steelers. 16 for 27, 171 yards passing, no interceptions and only 1 fumble. Not that impressive, until you remember that he’s wearing a Ravens uniform, and suddenly he becomes the best quarterback in franchise history. Maybe. We’ll see.

I call this one close enough, only by virtue of the vagueness of my original promises.

The Game in Game Theory: (Aug 28 ’07): I predicted that Michael Strahan would stay retired and that Brady Quinn would have cause to regret holding out. I was, of course, as wrong as wrong can be about Stray: he helped carry his team to the postseason with 57 tackles, including 4 solo hits against the Patriots in Week 17 and a herculean 8 solo hits at Tampa Bay.

This is MUCH better than football!Brady Quinn, on the other hand, started his only game of the season in the ultimately meaningless 20-7 shellacking of the 49ers. And then, only to sub in for Derek Anderson. And then, only to go 3 for 8 and all of 45 yards. Holy hell. Notre Dame’s current quarterback put up better numbers this season.

I call this one a wash, tending toward “ehh …”. I was wrong on Strahan, but I submit history will bear me out on Quinn. Keep watching Cleveland, I, er, guess.

Fantasy Football Woes (Sep 25 ’07): I predicted that my fantasy football team would do terribly. The Baltimore Colts finished 3-10, 14th out of 14. Of course, I stopped updating my roster after about week 9. That may have something to do with it. But I prefer to blame the Champagne of Running Backs and his unapologetic just-above-averageness. I call this one worse than I expected.

Old Man Easterbrook: I predicted that Gregg Easterbrook would keep saying the most bafflingly dumb things. Viz:

In other football news, 9-7 City of Tampa hosts a playoff game, but 11-5 Jacksonville opens on the road, 10-6 Cleveland is eliminated and the 10-6 Giants travel to the 9-7 Bucs. Has there ever been a better case for making the NFL postseason a seeded tournament? No one cares about the AFC versus NFC Super Bowl setup any more: My guess is you don’t even know how that series stands. (Basically, tied; yawn.) The postseason brackets should reward the teams that perform best, and the best Super Bowl pairing — Indianapolis versus New England — should at least be possible when the countdown begins. The NFL could retain conference and division structure for the purpose of organizing regular-season play, then make the playoffs a 12-team seeded tourney. Performance would be rewarded, and pairings would be better. What’s not to like?

Read the New Republic!  Braaaagh!“Oh man! The Steelers totally robbed the Ravens in November!”

“You said it, Chip! But with the wild card slot, we’ll meet them again in the postseason, right?”

“You couldn’t be more wrong, Frank! Thanks to the Easterbrook Rule of 2008, we have to face the correspondingly highest seed in our bracket! Looks like we’re going to Dallas!”

“Dallas? I can’t afford a plane ticket to Dallas!”

“Then that’s a hearty Go Screw Yourself from Gregg Easterbrook to you, Frank!”

“Ah ha ha! Good one, Easterbrook!”

I call this one dead on.

Never Tell Me The Odds (Oct 23 ’07): I called the Colts, Ravens, Giants and Steelers games to be the biggest challenges between the Pats and 16-0. As it turns out, the closest scoring games between Week 8 and Week 17 were the Colts, Eagles (?!?!), Ravens and Giants. I call this one close enough.

January 2, 2008

A Festivus For The Rest Of Us

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Perich @ 8:44 am

Happy New Year, NerdsOnSports readers.

Now comes word that the Ravens have indeed fired Billick, making him the honorary first coach to get canned after the 2007 season. Considering Billick’s earlier comments that his job was safe, the move came as a surprise, but it probably shouldn’t have, considering the team’s lackluster performance in the second half of this season. Billick had been with the team for eight seasons. He was 80-64 in the regular season, 5-3 in four postseason trips and led the team to a win in Super Bowl 35.

While Billick was known as an offensive whiz before taking the job as the Ravens’ second-ever coach (he replaced Ted Marchibroda), his defenses were usually the better units. Under Billick, Baltimore never had a high-level wide receiver or quarterback — Trent Dilfer game-managed the team to the Super Bowl win. The team instead thrived on the power-running game of Jamal Lewis and ferocious defense, led by linebacker Ray Lewis.

After the team finished a surprising 13-3 last season and won the AFC North, little went right this season. Though the club nearly beat the now 16-0 Patriots, it was humiliated in a loss to the then 0-13 Dolphins.

(source)

Let’s take a moment to remember this maverick genius in his best form:

Who do you think should replace Brian Billick?

Edit: See also: bootbootbootbootbootbootbootbootbootbootboot.com.

December 4, 2007

Nothing Is Written

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Perich @ 1:10 am

On November 25, the Patriots met the Eagles for what was, at the time, the largest point spread in professional football in a game that didn’t involve an expansion team. With McNabb out, the bookies laid 23.5 points on the game, expecting another blowout. An onslaught of blitzes and three competitive quarters later, Brady looked rattled. The Patriots, taking grief for running up the score in the 4th in all other games, had to scramble to pull out a win.

All right. So the Pats had been shown to be vulnerable. But Belichick was a smart man; he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Especially not against Baltimore.

(more…)

August 14, 2007

Am I Ready For Some FOOTBALL?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Perich @ 10:13 am

Sure, it might be 90 degrees at night. Sure, Montana might be on fire. But August means the start of PRE-SEASON FOOTBALL – the second happiest time of year*

Right man, wrong uniformWillis McGahee has fit right in at Baltimore:

Break out the verbal trash with the Baltimore Ravens, though, and, well, you’re just one of the guys. For this talented and talkative team, shrinking violets need not apply. Led by mouthy, filibustering veterans like middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens aren’t shy about taking on players who unabashedly love to talk the talk.

The article’s surprisingly sparse on actual examples of trash talking, which leads me to believe that it’s unprintably filthy. Which is just how I like it.

Meanwhile, Mike Holmgren has apparently gotten over Seattle’s OT loss, though it took some time:

Here was his Pro Bowl quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, scrambling unnecessarily, overlooking an open receiver and throwing incomplete to the wrong guy with the season on the line.The third-and-2 mishap doomed Seattle in overtime of the NFC playoffs, helping Chicago continue its Super Bowl march.

There were plenty of pivotal moments for the Seahawks to agonize over, but this one would linger. It was Seattle’s final offensive play in a season checkered with regrettable ones.

The sequence so exasperated Holmgren that he brought his wife into the office to check out the tape. Can you believe this, honey?

A winning combinationHis wife! What a story! What a scoop! A professional football coach demanding analysis – or at least sympathetic aggrievement – of his spouse?!? What’s next?

(And I wonder what Kathy said. Probably something along the lines of, “Well, Matt never had a damn’s worth of protection in the pocket and it almost cost him his fingers, so I can forgive him a little skittishness”)

Up Boston way, Belichick has worked to integrate Adalius Thomas and Randy Moss into his Byzantine strategies:

The irony is that people should be paying more attention to Thomas because he’ll have a bigger impact on the Patriots’ fortunes. Although Moss is supposed to make life easier for Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady, Thomas is the guy who is going to improve a defense that really didn’t receive as much blame as it deserved for last season’s finish. After all, it wasn’t the offense that fell apart in that AFC Championship Game loss to Indianapolis. It was a defense that surrendered 38 points and blew a 21-3 second-quarter lead.

Allow meAdalius Thomas should join the long and storied ranks of players who left the Ravens franchise to become hugely famous contributors elsewhere: Priest Holmes, Sam Adams, Chester Taylor, Brandon Stokley, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

I’m excited. Get those baseball players off the field! Quit talking about Bonds and A-Rod and all of them. I want the brutal hard hitting of pre-season second string football!

* The happiest being the playoffs race.

June 7, 2007

Double Secret Probation

In order to alter the size of the tagcloud to my left, your right, I’d like to talk about a sport that’s not baseball.

pacman.jpgOn Monday, June 4, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down a series of suspensions for off-field misbehavior:

  • Tank Johnson, DT, Chicago Bears: for violating probation with misdemeanor firearms possession: eight games
  • Chris Henry, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: driving with a suspended license, supplying alcohol to minors: eight games
  • Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, cornerback, Tennessee Titans: aggravated assault, inciting violence, travelling with gun-toting felons: one season

All three are appealing the suspensions.I don’t feel the least bit of remorse for either of these three. All of them are repeated delinquents: Pacman Jones has been arrested five times in two years, Henry a mere 4 times in fourteen months, and Johnson was already on probation for a firearms charge nine months earlier. Criminal charges clearly haven’t been sufficient, especially since these guys earn enough money to defend themselves out of anything short of assaulting a federal officer with rolled-up stolen missile plans.

sig229ba.jpgI have no sympathy for their plight, but I do understand how they ended up where they did. Each of these young men were earning more money in a month than I earn in a year. Tank Johnson’s suspension, for instance, is estimated to cost him $255,000, which works out to $42,500 per unregistered firearm (and you thought your hobby was expensive). College athletes at universities with strong football programs already live the life of Achilles – and that’s when they’re (technically) not allowed to be paid for their work (ha ha, wink wink). Throw $1,212,000 at me within my first two years out of college and some of it just might end up on a stage in a Vegas stripclub.
(more…)

May 1, 2007

Ravens Draft Day Roundup

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Perich @ 9:01 am

One of the virtues of being in the thirties when it comes to draft day is that hey, you’re there for a reason. You’ve got shit figured out. Take it easy. Now’s the time to start making long-term investments that’ll pay off in a year or two, rather than hurrying sandbags into a collapsing levee.

So I’m going to talk about my Ravens.

1st round: Ben Grubbs, right guard, Auburn. One of the most liked linemen coming into the draft. The combine is full of those non-specific but enthusiastic notes that, were this baseball, would make Billy Beane tip over a lat press machine. “Explodes off the line” … “non-stop motor” … “mauler with a mean streak.”

Go You TigersOn the other hand, it’s tough to quote impressive figures about a guard, so I understand the ambiguity. So here’s one impressive stat: Ben Grubbs never missed a game in college. This speaks of good health and, more importantly (on a team which still starts Jamal “Probation” Lewis and Ray “Obstruction of Justice” Lewis), good behavior.

3rd round: Yamon Figurs, wide receiver, Kansas State. The Ravens probably didn’t draft Figurs to catch passes, which is no doubt making the Texans pull their hair out. Say what you will about his hands – Figurs posted the fastest speed at the combine this year, and he ran back more than five fields’ worth of punts, twice for touchdowns. Pair him up with the like of B.J. Sams and the Ravens could once again have a punt return unit that puts points on the board. (more…)

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