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Thursday
Sep182008

The Bengals Need Chad's Celebrations

I know the traditionalists have been wanting Chad to tone down his touchdown celebrations for quite some time now.  Forget about the Bengals defensive woes which is all together another story. The Bengals have regressed offensively (particularly Carson Palmer and his league worst 37.1 passer rating/3 interceptions/and 228 yards). And T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Ocho Cinco have combined for 11 catches and 129 yards in two games.  I also realize that DeSean Jackson's touchdown celebration before actually crossing the end zone will stir more heated debate among traditionalists who feel celebrations should be ended in general.  But the bottom line is that the Bengals need Chad to celebrate. They need more of his cool antics like the Hall of Fame jacket pose.  And believe it or not they need him to be in the news demanding trades.  Sound strange? 

Well it shouldn't because the more attention that is put on Chad, the more the media and fans can look past an organization that is beyond dysfunctional.  Consider the fact that the Bengals had a streak going of 9 player arrests in 9 months.  That's longer than any of their win streaks and better than their projected winning record this year.  Chris Henry was waived by the Bengals in April of this year because of his penchant for being arrested and and being suspended by the league ( 2 suspensions from the commish in 2 years).  And despite all of his troubles, the Bengals, in an effort to boost their depleted wide receiver corps, sadly put him back on their roster.  The Bengals have shown that whether through the draft or through free agency they don't do their homework when it comes to bringing troubled athletes onto their roster.  And just how does Marvin Lewis, Jim Lippincott, and Mike Brown get a pass for these issues?  They blame it on touchdown celebrations.  Maybe Chad toning down his "behavior" will get him the change he so desperately wants and needs.

Tuesday
Sep162008

The First Whistle of the Cowboys/Eagles Means I Officially don't care about Baseball

Somewhere in the baseball world recently the Brewers, with 12 games left in the wild card race, fired their manager Ned Yost.  The New York Mets lost to the Nationals, thus helping to cement another colossal repeat meltdown in September as their division lead dwindles.   The Red Sox flexed its homerun muscle and erased a 5 1/2 game lead while pulling into a tie with the young and surprising Tampa Bay Rays.  Oh, and Carlos Zambrano tossed a no hitter last night.  And with just one whistle...none of that mattered.   No, I'm not talking about the NFL blowing a whistle on Ed Hochuli ( one of its most recognizable veteran referees) for his poor call that cost the Chargers a much needed win.  I'm talking about the first whistle of the much anticipated showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles

Coming into this week, the Cowboys proved just how little training camp means as they throttled the now seemingly offensive challenged Browns with a 28-10 showing and 320 yards from Tony RomoDonovan Mcnabb proved that he was healthy and still quite the force in the NFL as he dissected the Rams defense for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns (still impressive even though it was the Rams).  So this matchup was billed to be a thriller (and shame on you if you missed it) that surpassed its expectations.  The game had everything.  You had Terrell Owens sprinting for 2 touchdown scores and past Chris Carter for second place all time in career touchdowns.  Marion (the Barbarian) Barber knocked over Eagles defensivemen like a bowling ball.  We had some great rookie play with Felix Jones returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.  And don't get me started on Desean Jackson (oh man is he going to be good) who blazed past the Cowboys corners like a veteran who had been there before, and then almost joined the  Leon Lett club of infamy by throwing the ball away before he passed the goal line.  Donovan made the Cowboy defenders look just "stupid" (out of sorts for you people not in the know) much of the night as he threw for 280 yards with a touchdown.  Oh, and that Romo guy managed to have a stellar game with throwing three touchdowns (guess it helps that the announcers mentioned Jessica only once this time). 

Don't get me wrong.  I love baseball for all it's tradition and history.  I like how Baseball digs its heels in and grinds against change(not because I admire their refusal to evolve, but because I like its absurdity).  I even find it intriguing that Baseball allows the richer teams with a large media market to treat small market teams like their minor league system.  All of this helps to keep my mind going during a long season.  But I'm also a Braves fan, which means my season and primary reason for watching was over a long time ago when John Smoltz and Tom Glavine went down.  The Yankees (who haven't been relevant in years) bench brawls and manager tirades (although traditional) are not enough to keep me interested as much as MLB would like to believe.  I need talent, stars, and plenty of action to ease the pain and transition from baseball. The Eagles/Cowboys matchup ( and football as a whole) combines all three of those components through the final whistle.  And it's a whistle I'm always glad to hear.


Monday
Sep082008

The Opening Weekend of the NFL taught me...Well not a whole Lot!

There might have been a few things that  escaped your attention with the weekend start of the NFL. Maybe you missed out on the fact that Braylon Edwards was second in the league in dropped catches last year (1st place goes to Terrell Owens who surprisingly can catch balls behind his back) . Or maybe you missed the fact that the Buffalo Bills quarterback play looks like it is finally going in an upward swing with the likes of Trent Edwards under center.  My apologies for missing such a crucial point while thinking this team had already moved to Canada and had finally helped put an end to the ridiculousness that is the CFL (Apologies also to Canadiens that are hanging on to that thought...but not quite there yet).  We can't overlook the fact that as of now, Shawn Merriman's knees are still healthy despite having a torn PCL and LCL, and that he has enough strength in them to put pressure on opposing quaterbacks.  Who knew steroids were sooooo effective...I kid I kid.  Did you notice two rookie quarterbacks winning their league debuts.  Yes I know it was against the likes of the Detroit Lions for Matt Ryan and against the Bengals for Joe Flacco.  I know the lions are horrible, and the Bengals don't play defense, so who better than those teams to make your first starts in the NFL.  But that was pretty impressive.  And last but not least were you aware that Rosario Dawson plays for the Carolina Panthers.  No not the curvacious and all to eager to flash her assets actress who starred in Men in Black II and Alexander (Don't ask me why I know that).  I'm refering to the 5th round draft pick taken in last years draft by the Carolina Panthers.  His name is really Dante Rosario, but not according to Fox's NFL teleprompter.  Easy mistake I guess.  But with those interesting facts, much of the start to "Football in America" was predictable.  Or maybe you were caught up in the stats and Tom Brady's injury to even notice.  Just take a some  noticeable matchups.

 Eagles vs Rams:  Yes I am aware that Donovan Mcnabb threw for 3 touchdowns and that Brian Westbrook had 2 total touchdowns while averaging over 4 yards per carry.  That should not be surprising.  What will be surprising is if they are making these kinds of plays in week 8 and after, seeing as how both of them tend to get injured halfway through the year.  The Rams on the other hand did little to help Marc Bulger in the offseason as far as adding line protection to keep him on his feet and healthy.  The Rams' receivers are aging.  They overpaid for Stephen Jackson, as giving him an extension should not have been their primary concern, and they drafted a defensive lineman in Chris Long who, in my opinion, wouldn't have been a thought in last years draft if not for being Howie Long's son.  Couple this with the fact that Marc Bulger hasn't been the same since Mike Martz left and I see another disappointing year for this club.

Cowboys vs Browns:  Thought you were going to see a whole lot of offense in this game?  Well you would be right if you were betting on the Cowboys.  Aside from a few holding penalties and a poorly thrown pass in the red zone by Tony Romo, this team looks poised to make a championship run.  The defense is much improved with Tank Johnson finally settling in at nose tackle (something he admits to not being comfortable with after being signed after his league suspension last year).  Terance Newman will be healthy after his groin heals.  And did I mention that Adam "Pacman" Jones was his replacement.  The team is just loaded with depth.  It must be nice that their main off season injuries were to their 3rd and 4th string receivers.  The Browns on the other hand will live not live up to their offseason hype.  This should not surprising as they are a vertical passing team that has little depth at widereceiver behind Braylon Edwards (I'm not sure how you stretch the field with that).  They will struggle to score when it gets cold, a theory that was proven with the offensive problems of not only them, but also the Patriots as both teams struggled with the onset of cold weather and faced with having to run the ball.  They have a young and inexperienced secondary, and they don't get defensive stops from their linemen.  I believe those traits have already been taken and patented by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jets vs Dolphins:  Yes the Jets have improved their quaterback play.  Duh, his name is Brett Favre.  Why anyone would think he would have jitters in his first start for the Jets and struggle against a team that won 1 game last year is beyond me (Crazy Dolphins  Fans).  The Jets looked good on defense, but then again, they were in fact playing the Dolphins who, in case you missed the last line I wrote, won 1 game last year (just making sure that thought sunk in).  But what should have been obvious was that Chad Pennington would play so well, even almost leading them to a late scoring victory.  Forget about Chad having those intangibles (like leadership and confidence) that can't be measured by media standards.  He is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in league history and a proven winner.  Those are easily tangible on any stat source like ESPN or Yahoo.

Patriots vs Chiefs:  Yes I am aware that Tom Brady is possibly out for the season.  I am aware that without him, the Patriots are an 8-8 team (at best).  I realize that Bill Belichick will be exposed as a mear mortal coach and what this means for the rest of the NFL.  But come on!  Did you think that an aged team that thought there might still be something left in the tank for John Lynch (only to shortly cut him) was going anywhere.  Did you think that this team would not struggle with the departures of Asante Samuel and Donte Stallworth (with Wes Welker you're # 2 now).  Did you think that their glaring weaknesses on defense (I am of course refering to their age and now inability to know where the opposing teams offensive plays arecoming) would not be in trouble.  The bottom line is that with Randy Moss being added so shortly before the start of the season last year, teams didn't have a chance to get their defenses set and gameplan.  This is a totally different year.  I had already picked this team to win 10 games or less even with such a weak division.  I just wasn't aware that it would be due to Brady's abscense.  No need to discuss the ChiefsBrodie Croyle is horrible.  Enough said.

Colts vs Bears:  Ok maybe this was a little bit of a shock, even if both teams met in the Superbowl 2 years ago.  The initial score of this game was quite perplexing.  After all the highpowered Colts were opening up at home and the Bears defense looked awful in the Pre-Season.  So awful that some may have questioned giving Brian Urlacher his extension.  But what shouldn't have escaped your attention was that Peyton Manning barely practiced with the team during training camp and didn't play one Pre-Season game.  I know that doesn't seem important to many, as Pre-Season games are looked at as a waste of time and money.  But Manning is a gym rat, and needs constant repition with his receivers to maintain his MVP form.  It should be little surprise that, given the nature of his surgery, this team might struggle coming out of the gate.  The following question does have to be asked.  Why do teams continue to kick to Devin Hester?

There were some surprises like Carolina's win, and the great play of Jake Delhomme.  A quarterback coming back from  Tommy John Surgery (I thought only pitchers suffered those injuries, thus the surgery being named after a pitcher...who knew) is extremely uplifting seeing as how the Panthers never quite rebounded from their Superbowl appearance in 2003.  It is also noteworthy that Reggie Bush had an impactful game.  I thought his attention would forever be devoted to his signing bonus along with Kim Kardashian's um, well...delightful personality and intelligence (yeah, those are the two main reasons).  But the real surprise has been the fact that Fox has managed to find another way to make grown adults look stupid with a new game show called "Hole in the Wall".  I don't know how I didn't see that coming.

Friday
Sep052008

Washington Sports are Just Plain Awful



Watching the Redskins Giants game made me appreciate early starts for sports games.  I have never been so glad to see a game end as this one I tried watching last night, but at least I got to bed early.  Don't get me wrong, as a Cowboys fan, I was interested in seeing how Eli Manning would perform in his debut after winning the Superbowl MVP from last year and how their defense would hold up without the playmaking of Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan (primarily Strahan's New York bravado).  .  After all, Eli doesn't perform well at home and the Giants won't do anything without their defensive front line.  As much as I hate to admit it, Eli looked poised with leading that offense.  He made some bad throws (1INT, and three passes that could have made it 4), but those seem to be things that are fixable.  The defense looked solid with their abilities in frustrating Jason Campbell, but that doesn't say much because he looked as confused as his head coach Jim Zorn.  But throughout the course of this game, the thing that caught my eye, and what made me keep watching  was just how bad this Redskins team is.  They have a struggling quarterback who doesn't know the offense, limited playmakers on both sides of the ball, and a head coach who will looks like he is auditioning just to keep his job.  The whole team just looked unprepared to take the field.

Redskins fans  have to look at management and their decision making.  They draft poorly and overpay for playmakers.  They have an owner in Daniel Snyder who has made his money from entertainment venues, and yet they probably have the most boring and predictable team in the NFL (or do you think 3 plays and punt are what fans tune in for).  I would like to tell those fans to jump ship, maybe latch on to the Ravens, but they might be just as bad.  In fact, when you consider Washington sports in general there's not much to look forward to.  The Redskins stink, the Nationals are not a major league team, and the Wizards most interesting player is Gilbert Arenas.  It's got to be disheartening to those fans and it doesn't get much better if you are a Virginia Tech or Virginia fan.  Maybe they should schedule all of their games early so that you can at least get some sleep which shouldn't be that hard after watching any of those teams play.

Tuesday
Aug262008

Strahan is the Anti Favre...He has Options

Training Camp.  Preseason football.  Obnoxious fans.  Tom Coughlin's ridiculous mandates.  No longer does Michael Strahan have to answer to any of these.  He'll be able to sip a few more wine coolers in Greece, do more mock interviews with celebrities like Alicia Keys, and diagnose the utter failings of Eli Manning from his booth in Fox studios. Yes, It sure is nice to have options, especially when you are a player, or in Strahan's case a former player, of the NFL.  And as an outsider looking in I can't help but root for Strahan.  Let's face it, for the most part the majority of these players(who aren't quarterbacks that can control a franchise's legacy) function in a world where they have limited control over their legacy and money and their only leverage is complaining through the media and or agent, holding out of camps and pre season football games (that they probably shouldn't be apart of anyway), and giving half hearted attempts while on the field, ala Randy Moss.  Those certainly aren't guarantees that a player will be able to control his future (Just ask Chad Johnson). 

That's not to say that I am lumping Strahan in with the malcontents previously mentioned above.  To the contrary, I think the Strahan is more of an impact player than those guys ever will be, and the Giants should have offered Strahan the kitchen sink given the situation that they found themselves in with the loss of .Osi Umenyiora  No matter what you thought about Eli Manning's progression as a Superbowl MVP in making solid plays while breaking down a defense, his ascension as a vocal leader of the team, his "improved" body language when dealing with blown plays on the field (because apparently shrugged shoulders matter when coming off the field), or his ability to deal wih the New York media. The strength of this team was in the defensive line they put together that was anchored by Strahan.  Oh sure, Osi had a great year, but the majority of his sacks came in one game against a second year guy (Winston Justice) who was filling in for an injured William Thomas.  And Manning played well down the stretch, including the Superbowl, however the Giants started out poorly and this team really found their rhythm when the defense got going (particularly as Strahan got into game shape).  And if you ever want to doubt how crucial Strahan was to their success throughout the years consider the fact that in the 15 games the Giants have played without him, they have lost 12 of those games.  So the questions remains whether Giants fans are ready to put their hopes and dreams on Manning's arm...especially since we aren't talking about Peyton, and not rely on what made them special in the first place, which was their defense.

I guess, though, the overwhelming reason I find Strahan's situation, success, or whatever you want to call it is becaus it is nothing like th situation with Brett Favre.  It's similar in the sense that both players played through tremendous amounts of pain (Favre's addiction to painkillers and Strahan's chronic absorption of pain killers) but Strahan didn't play mind games with the media.  And he didn't drive his coaches and his GM crazy with his repeated transgression about retiring.  And he didn't make a mockery of himself like a jaded former lover. And more importantly for my own sake, I didn't have to watch him cry.  Now I realize that Favre really didn't have many options.  He couldn't be a backup to Aaron Rodgers.  He couldn't stay retired on the Packers terms.  And he certainly wasn't ready to hang it up and live out his days quietly in dreadful Mississippi ( and who could blame him no matter how attractive his wife is).  And although his arrival in New York will upgrade the talents of the Jets, watching the coverage of his un retirement was unbearable.  And I guess I needed a guy like Strahan to go out with some dignity, legacy in tact.  He weighed his options and walked away gracefully on his own terms...something Favre just couldn't, or wasn't willing to do.  Plus he didn't cry about it.  So how can I root against that?