Alright, let's get this out of the way: I apologize for the utter lack of updates recently. Without going into details, things got sucky, and unfortunately, I forgot that when things get sucky, real men throw themselves ever more deeply into their internet mistresses. That said, this time I'm REALLY back. And I've got the Hangover to prove it.
So from now on, expect updates. Expect funny. Expect confusing hyperbole that makes reference to philosophy, literature, and every crappy movie we can think of. Expect snarky commentary on football from douchebags with liberal arts degrees. In short: We're back.
• Decisions that everybody regrets: Does anyone still want to back the Bengals up on their decision to “send a message” to Chad Johnson? Looking back, they could have picked up multiple first day picks, including a first rounder, from the Redskins. Think those picks couldn’t have given the Bengals some much needed new blood on defense, or running back? Think that the Redskins pass offense wouldn’t be working on overdrive with a talented route runner like Johnson making things easier for them? Think that Johnson couldn’t have a Randy Moss style rebirth on a team with even a decent run game and a healthy quarterback? It’s my favorite kind of compromise; the one where nobody leaves happy.
• Romeo Crenel benched Brady Quinn in favor of Derek Anderson in a meaningless game Hooray for submarining a young quarterback’s confidence! I mean, it’s definitely that guy’s fault. It couldn’t possibly be the fact that you’re running just 20 rush plays the entire game. Or the fact that your top receiver looks like he has the self esteem issues of a 15 year old anorexic orphan girl with acne and a foster dad who always wanted sons. Or the fact that your defense can’t seem to prevent offenses, mascots, or wandering groups of young children who happen to be tossing around a football, from reaching the end zone. He should have been fired before it was cool to fire coaches.
• The Cowboys could have all the talent in the world, but the fact is their remaining schedule looks like this: Seahawks (YAY!), Steelers (who are getting healthier and scarier every week), Giants (the best team in football right now), Ravens (TO isn’t going for over 200 yards on those guys), and Eagles (who will be playing for either pride or their playoff lives). At 7-4, and with the Giants at a comfortable lead in the division, I think you need to win at least three of those, and I don’t think I like the Cowboys to win anything other than the pounding of the most depressing team in football (welcome back, Seattle; futility missed you).
• Whoa whoa whoa, you’re telling me that throwing some tough love at an incredibly gifted receiver with attitude problems (Vernon Davis…where fantasy owners go to die…) early in his career, combined with working some passing plays that make use of his physical gifts, could be a GOOD idea? Man, if Mike Nolan had known that THAT was what fixed offenses, and not suits and facial hair out of a Colt Films production, he might have had a chance.
• For the record, I’ve often thought every team should start off trailing the Lions by 17 points. Seriously though, what would be a fair handicap? I’m not kidding here: How many points would it take for the Lions to compete on a weekly basis?
• The good news is this: Kevin Smith actually looks like he could be the quality running back that the Lions lacked for almost the entire Millen tenure. 86 yards on 16 carries isn’t bad, and even though some of that came when the Bucs were clearly playing pass, it’s nice to know you have a back that can take advantage of defenses that play hard for air attacks. That probably would have been even nicer to know right after the Lions drafted four first round wide receivers, but we’re splitting hairs here.
• Like you weren’t going to get at least one mention of this during my return: YEEEEEEAAAHHH J! E! T! S! JETS! JETS! JETS!!! In all seriousness, outside of the Steelers and the Pats, there’s not a single team I wouldn’t want to see in the playoffs. The Jets are stopping the run (perfect for cold weather season), and gaining valuable tough yards out of Thomas Jones (27 carries for 96 yards) while getting Neon Leon enough touches to take advantage of his skill set (8 rushes, 82 yards, 2 TD). Better still, the team has finally added a big target that can stretch the field in Dustin Keller, and Favre seems to be taking advantage of his physicality to the tune of 20 catches over the last three games. It’s what I’ve always thought about pass attacks; you need to have the three big areas (sidelines, deep middle, possession territory) covered. Brett Favre is totally going to the hall in a Jets jersey…
• There really is nothing to inspire a team’s confidence like playing the Kansas City Chiefs. I think Tyler Thigpen has looked pretty decent over the last several weeks (not his fault that Larry Johnson is exactly what you’d imagine that crazy stalker ex would be if they had the speed, strength, and means of a pro football star), but this team has absolutely nothing going for it outside of that and the last days of Tony Gonzalez. Once he leaves and defenses are able to focus on covering Dwayne Bowe (who isn’t fast enough to handle that).
• Matt Forte would be rookie of the year if it weren’t for Mat Ryan helming the resurgence of the Atlanta Falcons. 146 all purpose yards and 2 TD, even against an abysmal Rams squad, is the stuff that franchise players are made of. Better still, he’s averaging 4 yards a carry for the season, and 7.5 yards per catch, and this is his first year in the league. How did nobody realize who this guy was until the second round?
• How do you keep Trent Green in a football game long enough to throw four picks and not get arrested for attempted murder? Is this some sort of NFL sponsored euthanasia?
• So at this point, you obviously franchise Matt Cassel if you’re the Pats. The question now becomes this: Assuming someone offers you the first and a third it would take to get him, do you trade him? After all, there’s no guarantee that Brady will come back at full strength, and at this point it seems doubtful that he’s going to be getting much better, whereas Cassel is five years younger and performing at the level Brady was when he made his stunning entrance into the league. So do you make a trade that could prepare you to continue your near dynasty status, or do you hold onto the most natural backup plan available in case Brady goes Carson Palmer style belly up, continuing long after Brady’s age and injury become an issue? No right answers…yet…
• Ronnie Brown is pretty much guaranteeing his spot as one of the most disappointing fantasy players of all time.
• As for real life disappointment, you can pretty much let the Jacksonville Jaguars rest on top of the heap, having been stomped on by the only other contender for that award, the Minnesota Vikings.
• Pulling Donovan McNabb was the right call, but blaming him for the utter failure of this team is unfair, and is the reason why he’ll do for some unfortunate team what Chad Pennington has done for the Dolphins.
• That said, how long was this whole experiment supposed to last where we keep throwing a great quarterback out there without a single top tier wide receiver (Desean Jackson, if he’ll ever be that guy, is a couple of years away), and an undersized back who can’t get short yardage as the only player anywhere near his talent. This was stupid three years ago.
• Also, keep an eye on that Steelers vs. Ravens game in three weeks. Last time around, the Ravens got robbed of a regulation victory thanks to a wrong call by an end zone referee. The Ravens are built in terms of ground game to hang with the Steelers defense, and the Ravens defensive front should once again give nightmares to the one part of Pittsburgh’s team that won’t be getting better with time: The offensive line. I don’t care how often this team “guts out wins”, you can’t give up 35 sacks at this point and go very far in January.
• I’m all for this plan of “let’s slowly develop Jamarcus Russell so that we don’t destroy his confidence and waste the most mystifying arm in the league”, but could we maybe at least let the kid break 15 throws? He’s never going to learn to throw the deep ball that he was meant to throw (and if you’ve ever seen him gun it at any distance, there’s no question he was built for it) until they take the training wheels off of the offense.
• Meanwhile, how bad can Denver possibly be? Well, prior to Sunday’s debacle, the Raiders hadn’t scored an offensive TD in 13 quarters. Meanwhile, they take the field against the gentle breeze that is the Broncos defense and Justin Fargas turns into Gale Sayers.
• Matt Ryan stands and delivers from a collapsing pocket as well as anybody I’ve seen. I’ve never been much of a height guy for quarterbacks, but the mediocrity of the pass protection actually makes it seem like a much bigger advantage in his case than it does in others.
• Hell is being a Larry Fitzgerald fantasy owner. Seriously, it’s making me root for complications in Anquan Boldin’s rehab. The man is probably one of the three best receivers in the league, and yet Boldin gets 11 catches while Fitzy can only get 5. This is like dating a beautiful girl who’s bad in bed and living next door to a really pretty girl that you can hear is built for speed through your walls.
• I wrestled in high school, and once saw a friend of mine who wasn’t very good put together the match of his life and lose to a guy who went on to win the district championship. The next week, I saw him have to go the distance with a kid who had a mental disability but could somehow wrestle and was surprisingly strong. Suffice to say, we all felt better about the close loss than the close win. In a totally, completely unrelated note, Washington edged out Seattle 20-17.
• The most irritating part about the Chargers melting down is that Shawne Merriman turned out to be every bit as important as he was already constantly reminding us he was. Maybe that will…make…him…less of a dick? Ugh…
• Watching Peyton Manning play week after week feels like one of those Erin Brokovich movies where the single parent is somehow managing to keep it all together. I wouldn’t be surprised if he watches his game film with a tub of Haagen Dazs and a bottle of chardonnay.