Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Morning Hangover 10-29-2007

Well, it looked like I’d settled into my usual Sunday sports bar, the darkest, most cavernous bar in New York, as my permanent spot. Seriously, the place has a gothic fireplace in the back of the bar. They had Halloween decorations up too, which almost seemed like overkill, because if there was ever a bar LESS in need of Halloween decorations, it’s this bar. I thought it was one of those theme bars where “it’s always Halloween” or something. In any event, I say it looked like I’d settled in because this past Sunday, I broke my own rule about picking up girls in The City, and I think it may have awkwarded me and the boys out of the bar for good; I tried to pick up the bartender. Bartenders, as any savvy patron knows, are basically strippers who tease you with booze instead of free nudity (and illegitimate kids to blackmail you with). As such, I’ve generally lived by a standing rule about trying to pick up bartenders: Don’t. They don’t really like you, they like your sweet, sweet cash. Also, the odds are good that they’re not really going anywhere and are just looking for someone to float them while they try to get that modeling/acting career off of the ground (or the used mattress, in some cases). I’d broken the rule once before, and it was with a 35 year old who worked at the same comedy club as me, and even then it made asking for a drink awkward later (and I hate things getting between me and the booze that quiets the talking in my head). In this most recent case, I asked the bartender at our bar/cave out to lunch. Judging by the shrugging/dodging answer I got back, I doubt I’ll be hearing from her (I did leave her my number, an underrated, dignity saving move that you don’t learn until you turn 21). In short, my Sunday Funday involved a dark drinking hole with a slate of bad football games coupled with about seven hours of flirting and an implicit rejection to cap it off. That said, it’s great to be back in the game; there’s still no feeling quite like trying to pick somebody up (bartender or not).

And now, to the games…

- The era of “The American Dream” Kellen Clemens is upon us, but I doubt it will make any difference The Jets defensive front seven still act like their playing one hand tag rules, touching quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield rather than tackling them (David Harris looks genuinely stunned whenever he learns this is not the case). Additionally, there is no more clueless unit than the Jets secondary, as epitomized by the Lee Evans catch from JP Losman that was the game’s lone highlight. Evans went up to grab a jump ball, and the pass seemed like an easy snatch away for Jets CB Darrelle Revis, or at least it did until backup safety Abram Elam ran right into Revis at full speed, allowing Evans to catch the ball unhindered. It looked like an idiotic mistake, but I like to think it was a sort of rookie initiation for Revis, getting him in line with the general defensive policy of not interfering with receivers as they make deep catches. Get in line or get knocked around, rookie!

- One more bitter, bitter note: I’m honestly curious about what this means for the starting career of Chad Pennington. On the one hand, there are still teams that could use a more stable starting quarterback. On the other, there are soon to be available quarterbacks with starting experience that are younger and have much more powerful arms (JP Losman, Rex Grossman) and more apparent upside (JP Losman). On the right team, in the right system, Handsome Chad is a great starter, but that system is one that I don’t think most fans would be ready to accept (eight minute drives built on 6-10 yard passes don’t get those highlight reels a-rollin’). Oh, and while we’re on it, does anyone get the feeling that The American Dream Kellen Clemens is firing out every pass as hot as possible to give Jets fans a warm, fuzzy feeling, regardless of whether or not it’s necessary? We get it, kid, your shoulder works How about you show us you can win a game with it?

- Wow I was wrong about the Redskins being able to hang with the Patriots. True, two starting corners were out, but unless you’re starting high school players, 52 points is inexcusable. Further credit goes to Jason Campbell, who “holds footballs” much like Britney Spears “sings,” and who loses his nickname until he proves he can get the ball closer to his receivers than “in the same zip code.” Oh, and I DEFY a Pats fan to argue that they’re not running scores up now. I think Belichick must be playing fantasy football with Brady as his QB as he bets on every game. There really is no excuse for a team to be so consistent against the spread.

- Oh, and Randall Godfrey, if you’re so pissy about a team putting up 52 points on you, how about you stop whining about it and do something to change it on the field. Not play better and stop them; it’s silly to think you could do that. Instead, there is no excuse for you to not continuously hit Tom Brady late until he leaves the game. What’s a couple thousand dollars in fines compared to the love and adoration of non-douchebag (non-New England) football fans everywhere? Whining about Bill Belichick having “no class” is about as useless as it gets. That’s like me whining about water being “wet.”

- I called that New Orleans could make the playoffs last week, and I’m prepared to say that they WILL make the playoffs after this past game. Their schedule is a joke, Tampa Bay is starting Earnest Graham, and Carolina’s starting QB doesn’t get this whole “rock and roll” music thing.

- Matt Jones finally scored a touchdown, meaning that he can now shave his beard, which will almost certainly make Jack Del Rio like him less.

- Also, Jacksonville backup QB Quinn Gray went 7/16 on the day, and his one touchdown required Matt Jones to do that thing he does once a year where he makes an athletically unrealistic catch and guarantees he’ll have a job for at least one more “developmental” year (he’s on the Akili Smith development plan). If you’re going to use Gray at QB, couldn’t you just as easily line up Fred Taylor under center? Is anyone going to make the case that they lose that much “throwing prowess” by not having a QB that started his career as a receiver on the Jaguars scout team?

- Don’t look now, but the Chargers are officially dangerous again. The addition of Chris Chambers gives them three credible offensive threats at three different levels on the field, and will allow Vincent Jackson to exploit offensive mismatches. Yes, I know Phillip Rivers was 7/11 yesterday, but he threw three TDs, highlighted his most dynamic receiving threat (Gates), and got the new guy involved (Chambers). If Shawne Merriman can get back into full defensive D-Bag mode, we could have a contender on our hands (contender = team that loses to the Pats by less than three scores).

- Quietly, the Colts have beaten a variety of opponents who have attacked them in different ways (running, controlling the ball, going through the air), each time establishing themselves as being much better. I really want to believe this team can beat the Patriots next week. As such, I’ll be talking myself into that belief for the next five days. This will be like the time I convinced myself that Jenna Jameson was just a model who was going through some rough times, and that she’d gladly leave the business for me once I made some money. Oooooooh, fun.

- I don’t know a player who is more frustrating for fantasy purposes than Adrian Peterson. One week, he looks like you could never get fair value if you traded him. The next, he looks like Cedric Benson. Oh, and if you’re playing the Vikings, is there an excuse not to throw ten guys in the box? Is Bobby Wade going to make you regret not covering him? Really?

- Wait, actually, Cedric Benson is more frustrating for fantasy purposes. One week he looks like Cedric Benson, and then the next week he continues looking like Cedric Benson. At least I, unlike the Bears, knew not to waste a first round pick on him.

- I am utterly unenthused by the Philadelphia Eagles. Donovan McNabb is pretty good for a guy who’s been injured as much as he has, Brian Westbrook is pretty amazing for such a small back, and Kevin Curtis is pretty fast for a white guy. It’s not going to mean anything in the NFC East, and Andy Reid shouldn’t be on the sidelines. The Department of Children and Families should take back any “World’s Best Dad” paraphernalia he’s acquired over the years.

- It’s saying something that I think the odds of Miami going winless are better than the odds of the Patriots going undefeated. Seriously, they came about as close as they’re gonna come this past week, and still wound up an international embarrassment. Oh, and I’m glad we chose to send THAT game overseas. Now we’ve lost all credibility for saying we don’t like soccer because “it’s boring.”

- Pay no attention to how they did it; Tennessee won yet another game, moved to 5-2, wins the gritty battles at the line necessary to stay in close games, and is starting to make me think that three teams could make the playoffs from the AFC South.

- Young QB’s that should be starting (and why): JaMarcus Russell (why keep old Daunte Culpepper when you’ve got younger Daunte Culpepper on the bench?); Kellen Clemens (why lose with a veteran when you can lose with young blood?); Tavaris Jackson (you aren’t fooling anyone into thinking you’re still in contention, Childress, so let’s see how deep the sinkhole you mortgaged your future for is.); John Beck (Cleo Lemon).

- But do NOT add Brady Quinn to the list above, as Derek “Frankenquarterback” Anderson continues to light up opposing defenses through the air. Is it crazy to think that the Browns could stumble into the playoffs as a wild card team? Also, seeing as they’ve played them the closest of any team, could they be the matchup that the Pats would least like to see? Am I going delusional from running on an average of 5 hours of sleep last week?

- On a related note, has there ever been a receiving tandem more difficult to like than Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards?

- Rod Marinelli should be getting Gatorade poured on him for every win this season. This is the Lions after all. Hell, they should probably do it every first down. I’d say “act like you’ve been there before,” but since it’s the Lions, I’m not sure that statement applies; they’re not fooling anybody.

- Is it me, or is the NFL picture getting murkier every week? The Giants are firing on all cylinders and just a half game back from the Cowboys, making the NFC East way too close to call. The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers seem poised to go to war over the NFC North (that still feels silly to write). Anybody who doesn’t think the Saints can steal the NFC South is crazy, as is anyone who doesn’t think Seattle is a meltdown away from fumbling the NFC West. Meanwhile, the AFC East and South may look settled, but remember that a Colts loss would leave them only one up on their competition in the division (provided that they both win). Pittsburgh’s identity shifts every week, while the Browns are a crafty FG timeout trick away from having the same record. Oh, and Kansas City is on top of the AFC West, and only has to see San Diego one more time after stealing one from them earlier in the season. But hey, everyone in the AFC East sucks bsides the Patriots, so there’s that (/gnash teeth).

And that’s my time for this week. Don’t forget to keep checking the blog daily, and keep an eye out for Alex’s MNF redux column. She’s got another whopper of a matchup between erratic quarterbacks of different ages to write about. Lucky her.

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