Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beware of Chucky! (Why Jon Gruden should not be hired on the college level)

With the first of what surely will be many firings on the college football landscape, brings the now annual speculation that Jon Gruden will take a college head coaching job. There will be many high profile openings available and he is already getting calls to ascertain interest. College presidents beware! Hiring Jon Gruden will be a program crippling mistake.

Teaching ability
One the most important aspects of coaching college football, is the ability to teach. Gruden has proven that he either did not possess the ability to teach or did not have the stomach for it as he always preferred veteran quarterbacks and never developed a single QB on the pro level. This inability to develop or want to develop a pro quarterback directly led to his firing in Tampa Bay. College Football is all about teaching players.

Practice & Player Contact Limits
The NCAA has strict guidelines about how long players can practice and workout. Gruden is a notorious early riser who wakes up daily at 3:17. He works non-stop. How easy do you think it will be to adjust his practice schedules, meeting schedules and training schedules down to fit the college model? It will drive him nuts that he can’t be on the field or even in the stands for off-season work-outs. He would be an NCAA infraction waiting to happen.

West Coast Offense
The West Coast Offense is a timing based system that requires immense practice time to perfect. Time college coaches don’t have because of practice limits. Look at the last several West Coast pro coaches who dropped down to the college level - Mike Sherman at Texas A & M, Bill Callahan at Nebraska, Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State, Al Groh at Virginia. They all bombed offensively. Coaches don’t change their preferred schemes. They are always inclined to go with the schemes they feel most comfortable with. However, the West Coast offense does not work in college

Alumni & the Rubber Chicken Circuit
College coaches have to kiss the ring. They have to bow down to influential alumni. The landscape is littered with successful coaches who could not get along with influential boosters and got fired because of it. This is what happened to Tommy Bowden at Auburn and David Cutcliff at Ole Miss. Every program has these guys who have made their money and now the “program” is their pet project. These are also the guys who fund the private organizations that pay the majority of the coaches’ salary. Another aspect of coaching college is the “rubber chicken circuit.” That’s the name coaches give to the off season dinner circuit that they have to go and give speeches and eat those meat, starch and vegetable banquet dinners we all love so much. I don’t know how good Gruden would be doing these things, but I do know that I’d rather hire a coach that is already familiar with these types of activities. Pro coaches who drop down to college find that they do not have the stomach for this stuff. Its part of the job so wouldn’t you want coaches who are already familiar with these tasks?

For these reasons, I think Jon Gruden would be a horrible choice for a college head coaching job. As for the pro ranks, seems like he’d fit perfectly in Dallas but that’s a column for another day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Linebackers!

There are two players most responsible for my love of football. One will be the right defensive end on my list. The other is none other than Patrick Swilling. I grew up loving the way Swilling came off the corner. He terrorized NFL quarterbacks as part of the Dome Patrol Defense. I wanted to be Swilling in every way. He had a swagger on the field. He played with his mouth piece dangling. I tried that but sadly they have rules against those things in lower levels. I was devastated when the Saints traded him away. I ended up being a Lions fan for a couple of years. I also like the fact the Swilling did well in business and was later elected to the Louisiana State Congress. He is by far my favorite linebacker of all time.

At middle backer I got Ray Lewis. There has never been a better team leader than Lewis. It was telling during the first season of Hard Knocks that Brian Billick said the team didn't need to go away to training camp because he had Lewis. He said no one was ever late to practices because no one wanted to face Ray Lewis. That tells you everything you need to know about his leadership abilities. It doesn't hurt that he also happens to be one of the fiercest competitors and hardest hitters the game has ever seen. Defensive MVP and Superbowl winner too.

I had several choices in mind for my third linebacker. I thought Rickey Jackson and that would have given me Saints book-ends. I thought Derrick Brooks but I like him more as an FSU do everything backer than the Tampa Cover 2 version. Then I thought about Kevin Greene. He was a monster for Pittsburgh and Carolina. But he is a a 3-4 outside backer and I'm running a 4-3. So I have settled on Wilber Marshall. He was a ferocious hitter and could do everything on the football field. He could cover, play the run and rush the passer. He was an integral part of the 85 bears vaunted defense. He also had one of the most ferocious hits in league history when he laid out Troy Aikman (see picture below).  Aikman's chin split wide open. He had to wear a special chinstrap the rest of his career. That play alone gets him on my list ahead of the others. Who's your all time favorite linebackers?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful for Football.....

The Shut-Down Corner blogged 77 reasons why he was thankful for football. It's a good list although I don't agree with #53 about Micheal Irvin and for # 63 just look to New York and Darrelle Revis. To see the original 77, click the title to this blog........................... I figured I would complete the list to 100. Here's my additional 23:

100. That the 72 Dolphins still get together and pop champagne showing the bond that old team mates share.
99. Red Zone channel - It’s like having a mental remote and is addictive.
98. That Peyton Hillis can go from an afterthought in college and a throw –in on a trade and become a star.
97. That Ray Lewis is still laying people out.
96. Watching Mark Sanchez develop right before our eyes. That throw to Braylon Edwards was amazing.
 95. That Tampa is in the play-off hunt giving hope for “next year” to the fans of all last place teams.
94. That Chris Henry’s lost life helped save so many others
93. Watching Hines Ward play receiver like he was a linebacker.
92. For Jeff Fisher taking a stand against Vince Young. It’s a team game.
91. That all 5’10” of London Fletcher is still making plays in the NFL. Giving hope to the little guys
90. That Dick Lebeau is still zone blitzing the hell out of folks.
89. For Cheerleader shots during games & and that you can rewind live TV now!
88. “Can’t do it. I want winners”
87. Al Davis’s jump suits (Hey, they’re just funny)
86. Steve Johnson - waiver wire pick-up of the year.
85. For kick-offs to Devin Hester.
84. That my wife joined my fantasy league and beat me in the title game last year.
83. Ed Reed
82. For Josh Freeman - the new Captain Comeback?
81. The Jacksonville Hail Mary. Knock it down! Whoops.
80.  That first Sunday after the Super Bowl when you realize its all over and you can’t wait for it to start again.
79. Watching the game with your Dad and listening to him try to explain how good Gale Sayers was.
78. For Rocky Bleier and all the old Steelers raising money for the Flight 93 memorial.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

NFL Power Rankings

1. Patriots - Tom Brady may be the greatest quarterback of all time. He does more with less. He has definitely moved into my all time top 3 (Sounds like a good future blog).

2. Eagles - Big win against the Giants. There was no hang-over from the Monday night game against the Skins.
3. Jets - Mark Sanchez is maturing before our eyes. The last two weeks the team has won because of his play down the stretch. And has there been a more perfect pass thrown this season than the throw down the sideline to Braylon Edwards between the corner and safety? I don't think so. It may be time for Rex to loosen the reins on the kid so there won't be so many close 4th quarter games.

4. Steelers - The Raiders looked like they were in pre-season mode. The Steelers are good but not that good.

5. Ravens - Team did what it needed against a team (Carolina) that is without its starting backfield and with a coach who is on his last leg.

6. Falcons - Big test this week as the team hosts the Pack. A win will go a long way toward solidifying play-off positioning and maintaining the division lead on the Saints and Bucs.

7. Saints - Team is starting to roll again offensively. Key injured players are returning to the line-up just in time for the stretch run.

8. Packers - Team is rolling. Aaron Rogers can take a huge step forward Sunday. The knock on him is that he never wins the big game. A road game against a conference foe that is also in the hunt for home-field advantage counts as a big game.

9. Tampa Bay - The more I see Tampa play, the more impressed I am with Josh Freeman. He is cool under pressure and his team definitely follows him. I can't wait to see what he looks like when he gets more experience and a couple more weapons. He'll be deadly.

10. Chicago - The Bears are an interesting team. At times they can look sloppy on offense and Jay Cutler is always a play away from a crippling interception. But they are great on special teams and very good on defense so they will always be in games. Now if they can just get more production from their running game they could be on to something.

The piss-poor, god-awful 5 worst teams in the NFL right now

5. San Francisco - Last week's game against Tampa was a contest pairing two teams heading in the opposite directions. Tampa is a young team that shows poise, focus and direction. These 49ers exhibit none of these traits. While the team plays hard under Singletary, the team lacks direction.  Singletary just was not experienced enough when the team hired him. The organization would be better served to hire an experienced X and O coach who can utilize the talent they have.

4. Arizona Cardinals - It is said that when you miss on a 1st round quarterback, you set your franchise back 5 years. Well the teamed missed on Matt Lienart and the team is suffering the consequences. There is no Kurt Warner around to bail out the team for that mistake this time. Then they compounded the problem by signing Derek Anderson in the off-season. It's a shame too. I miss watching Larry Fitzgerald play with a competent quarterback.

3. Bills - Their comeback against the Bengals was a thing of beauty. To their credit, this team has played hard all year.  I'm glad that it is finally paying off in wins.

2. Bengals - This team started the season with aspirations of making a run at the Super Bowl. Instead they are challenging for the worst record in the league. Getting blown out by a 1 win Bills team AFTER they were up 28-3 is a new low.

1. Panthers - Andrew Luck awaits them as next year's presumed number 1 pick.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NFL Power Rankings

1. Patriots - Impressive win vs the Steelers. Tom Brady and company definitely have Pittsburg's number. Now they get to face their long time rivals the Colts.

2. Eagles - I do not have a sufficient enough vocabulary to describe the performance that Micheal Vick had Monday night. He looks every bit like a great pocket passer now. Add that to his unparalleled athletic ability and you get a player that can simply crush an opponent. Simple fact. When Vick is healthy. The Eagles offense has been unstoppable this season. He's healthy so the Eagles are my number 2 team.

3. Jets - Bill Parcels always says you are what your record says you are and the Jets are 7-2. The grinded out a victory against the Browns. They don't have to be pretty, they just have to win.

4. Falcons - Last week, I said that if they beat the Ravens then I'd be a believer. Well I lied. I still don't believe in them. However, I can not justify ranking them any lower.

5.  Colts - This team keeps finding ways to win. Bengals gagged last Sunday but as Parcels says,.....

6. Saints - Rested from the bye and looking to make a late season push.

7. Ravens - Seems like this team can beat the good teams but can't come through against top 5 level opponents.

8. Packers - Can take a big step towards wrapping up the division by putting away the struggling Vikes next Sunday. Should be rested from the bye.

9. Giants- When they win they look great. When they lose, it is ugly. The looked horrible against the Cowboys. Couldn't cover, couldn't tackle, couldn't pass protect. Mercy!

10. Tampa Bay - I could have went with the Bears here. Its a toss up really. The Bucs make fewer mistakes though and I like the way the team plays under Morris. Raheem has to be Coach of the Year at this point. No one thought this team would win more than 3 games this season.

The piss-poor, god-awful 5 worst teams in the NFL right now.

5. Bengals - Can you say under-achievers? This team has entirely too much talent to only have two wins. Carson Palmer has regressed. I think he has not recovered mentally from his knee injury. He looks very skittish in the pocket.

4. Dallas Cowboys - It took Wade Philips getting canned for this team to show up and play. Wade handled his firing with class and is still rooting for the team. Perhaps the team can continue to play up to their capabilities and make the 2nd half of the season interesting.

3. Lions - This team is struggling to rid itself of its losing atmosphere. They have more talent than the Bills and had chances to win but the team just couldn't seal the deal. They need to take that next step forward.

2. Bills - The Bills finally got their first win. The 2008 Lions are popping champagne as the will remain the only 0-16 team in history. Seriously though, I am glad they got a win. Every team deserves to win at least 1 game. Plus this team plays hard every week.

1. Panthers - They are running on fumes. Nearly all of their talented players are injury. They will struggle to stay in games the rest of the year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My All-time team - Cornerbacks

Here are the starting cornerbacks on my team.

Some players just grasp your attention the first time you see them play. Deion Sanders was just such a player for me. I am not a flamboyant person and I normally do not like excessive celebrations. However, I watched his games intent on seeing him high-stepping down the sideline. He talked a big game and he backed every bit of it up.  During tonight's game between the Falcons and the Ravens, Prime Time was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor. While he got his start in Atlanta, his best season was the 1994 season with San Francisco in which he was named Defensive Player of the Year. That year, he set the standard for conerback play. While Deion was not a physical tackler, he was a true shut-down corner who was a pick-six waiting to happen.

The other starting corner is Rod Woodson. Since I have Sanders at one corner, I figure I need a more physical corner opposite him. Woodson brought the wood. He laid out receivers and running backs. You have to be physical to play for the Steelers and Rod fit the bill. He also was excellent in coverage. Furthermore, he owns the record for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns. He was a great player and earned his spot on my team.


Dale Carter - Tough, physical and a tad dirty. Exactly my type of player

Charles Woodson - Great ball skills and a good guy. Great returner and donated 2 million UM for pediatric research.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The piss-poor, god-awful 5 worst teams in the NFL right now.

5. Lions - Detroit has a losing record even though they have scored more points than they have given up. They are close to getting it turned around. Too bad they paid 70 million for a quarterback who is brittle as 90 year old. Next week Stafford will probably break his hip.

4. Broncos - That trade with Cleveland worked out real well. You got a third string quarterback while the Browns got a starting running back that just put up 200 yards on the Patriots. And you gave them 2 draft picks too didn't you? Yeah, talk about getting fleeced.

3. Bills - The Bills clearly have the least amount of talent in the league. But they are playing with heart unlike our number 1 team on this list. They are gonna get a win sooner or later.

2. Panthers - Pathetic on offense. And now either rookies Jimmy Clausen or Tony Pike will QB the rest of the way. It's gonna be ugly. They have been out-scored by nearly 100 points already.

1. Dallas Cowboys - Who would have thought that this team would be this bad? Cowboy haters everywhere are rejoicing. Too much talent to be this bad. And the Giants are up next. Wade Philips said "Thank God" when he got fired I'm sure.

NFL Power Rankings

1. Steelers - Tough win against the Bengals. Kicking troubles may come back to haunt them though.

2. Ravens - Big win over a tough Dolphin team. Looking forward to Thursday's match-up with the Falcons.

3. Jets - Wow. Some offense. This young team does NOT need a bye.

4. Giants - Rolling on all cylinders.

5. Patriots- Hillis ran through this D. This team will win some games but they won't make the Super Bowl.

6. Falcons- Beat the Ravens on Thursday and then I'm a believer.

7. Saints - Crushed the hopeless Panthers. Team is gaining momentum

8. Packers - Clay Matthews is ridiculously talented. He plays with anger. I like that.

9. Eagles - Vick makes this team extremely dangerous.  They have speed everywhere.

10. Colts- Too many injuries to overcome. Their defense needs the lead to be effective but with all the injuries on offense, leads will be hard to come by. They will have grind all season.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My All-Time NFL Team

With the release of the NFL's Networks 100 Greatest players, I think its a good time to release my all time team. This line-up will be my favorite players at each position. Many of them will be some of the all-time greats but these may or may not be who I think are the greatest to have played that position. For example, Ronnie Lott is probably the greatest Strong Safety of all time but he's not the strong safety on my all time team. I'm starting with the defensive backfield and will work my way back until I finish up with the quarterback.  So here are my starting safeties.

Strong Safety - Jack Tatum

If you have read my blog, you already know that I love the way Tatum played. He played with reckless abandon. He patrolled the middle of the field and if you ran a crossing pattern, you risked serious injury. That's the kind of safety I like. Guys who change offensive play calls and make good receivers shorten their routes and get "alligator arms."  Nothing changes momentum like a devastating hit and no one laid people out quite like Tatum.  I was saddened when he passed away this year but his memory lives on.

Free Safety - Ed Reed

A free safety needs to be a ball-hawk. There is no better ball-hawk than Ed Reed. EVER! His instincts are amazing. He has a knack for being around the ball and making big plays in big games. He makes interceptions, forces fumbles and can return a kick in a pinch. Injuries have taken their toll on him now but in his prime, there has never been a more effective defensive centerfielder.

Honorable mention -

Strong Safety:  Andre Waters - as you can tell, I like my safeties aggressive maybe even borderline dirty. Andre was nicknamed "Dirty" Waters.  However, protecting the middle of the field is important stuff. Waters protected the field fiercely from the mid 80s to mid 90s for the Eagles.

Free Safety: Sean Taylor - Another ferocious hitter. Too bad his life was cut short. The sky was the limit with his abilities. He could cover and hit. Immense talent.

Who are your favorite Safeties?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NFL's 100 greatest players

So the NFL Network released its Top 100 players of all time. I have no problems with their top 5 - Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Montana and Walter Payton. The problem when one makes these lists is how do you compare the different eras? What stands out in all the old footage is that the players that were great were typically large for their positions for that time period or fast for their era. For example, Brown was a 220 lb running back that ran a 4.4. He was larger than all the linebackers at the time and of course no one have ever seen anything like him. Now, if you don't weigh 240, you are undersized at linebacker. Not to take away from Brown's greatness, but one can not ignore the size and speed differences in the game.

Don Hutson also made the list at number 9 even though played from the mid-30s to mid 40s. From the film, Hutson was a speed guy, one of those 11 in the 100 kind of guys. Well no one else had that kind of speed so of course he was unstopable. Now, every secondary in the league has track type athletes. So I wonder how his skills would compare to the guys in the 60s and 70s and to today. 

I have three big problems with the list. First, Deion Sanders is too low. The first cornerback is at 30 -Night Train Lane while Prime Time appears at 34. I won't debate who is the better corner but one of them should have been in the top 25.

Emmitt Smith is also ranked too low. I hate the Cowboys and believe that he was helped by a great line. Given that, I can not overlook the massive production. At every step of the way, he produced at historic levels. He rushed for nearly 9,000 yards in high school which was the 2nd most yards ever in the U.S. when he graduated. He left Florida as their all time leading rusher with nearly 4000 yards in 3 seasons. Then he goes on to retire from the NFL as the all-time leading rusher with over 18,000 yards rushing and scored more touchdowns than everyone else in history except Jerry Rice. Rice by the way was number 1 on the list. I think Smith gets discriminated against because of his running style. He was short and was considered too slow even though he had his share of long runs. He didn't have that long stride or break-away speed that fans drool over. He didn't have those breathe-taking cuts that some backs had. He simply produced. Produced at a greater rate than any other running back ever in the history of the NFL. Plus he won 3 Super Bowls. For this, he deserved to be in the top ten.

My last problem is that Joe Namath made the list. You know what his completion percentage was? 50.1%. Want to know what his TD to INT numbers were? Namath threw 173 touchdowns with 220 interceptions. He had a career 65.5 passer rating. Namath lost more games than he won. Namath's name should be no where near this list. He is perhaps the most overrated player in league history.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lombardi contenders....

1. Patriots - This team always finds a way to win.

2. Steelers - Lost to a motivated Saints team. Super Bowl preview perhaps?

3. Colts - Steamrolled the Texans with a depleted roster. Will Peyton win yet another MVP?

4. Ravens - Let's hope they open up the offense coming off the bye. This team has the talent to score big.

5. Jets - Team implodes coming off a bye. Can’t do anything offensively. Figures though as their key offensive players are all young. Young players need the continued structure of the season as oppose to rest.

6. Falcons - I still don’t like this team.

7. Saints - Team showed moxie in beating the Steelers. Three stops from the 1 foot line was championship caliber. Perhaps the team is finally sobering up from its Superbowl hangover.

8. Giants - t\They have had some dominating wins and some ugly losses. Which is the real team!

9. Chiefs - Probably the ugliest win in NFL history last Sunday but as Bill Parcells always says, "You are what your record says you are." They are 5-2 and in first place.

10  Buccaneers - Perhaps the only time the team will make the top ten so I’ll give the Bus their props. Freeman is a stud and Morris should be in consideration for Coach of the year.

With the 1st pick of the 2011 NFL draft.....

5. Bengals - A 4 game losing streak. Yikes! Remember when Carson Palmer was on the verge of becoming a great QB? Now he’s just another guy who couldn’t come back from injury.

4. Panthers - They are bad and boring. At least these other teams are just bad.
3. Cowboys - They just stink.

2. Broncos - Talk about a team headed in the wrong direction. And Tebow is suppose to be the savior?

1. Bills - They haven’t quit. They play hard every week but lack overall talent.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things I think I know....

Charlie Villanueva - you do look like a cancer patient. I know these are sensitive times and everyone has to be PC but dude, just be glad KG didn’t call you Powder

……Brad Childress took all the attention off Favre’s injuries, the winky-dink incident and his piss-poor coaching by releasing Randy Moss. So we have Hall of Fame quarterback, Brett Favre, telling people you are offensively inept.  We have a Hall of Fame receiver, Randy Moss, upset with your offensive game-plans and we witness your weekly failure to maximize the abilities of stud running back Adrian Peterson. I think its safe to say that offense is not your strong suit……Miley Cyrus’s mom hooked up with Bret Michaels. Now that’s classy!!!!!  After watching the “For/Of Love” series on VH1, would you hook up with anyone on there? I’d put on a Hazmat before I shook any of the participants hands!......I think Randy Moss has one more big run left in him. Everyone thought he was washed-up when he left the Raiders and then he went on an unprecedented run with the Patriots. Moss plays best when there is stability and a sound organization. The Vikings were that under Denny Greene and Moss thrived. The Raiders haven’t been stable this millennium and you saw the production. The Pats are as sound an organization as you can get so it had to be a culture shock to arrive in Minnesota and see the zoo that Childress is running. The Titans are well run so I expect Moss to be productive......Rest in Peace Sparky Anderson. Either he or Don Zimmer was my favorite manager of all time. Crusty ole baseball lifers. As a kid, I always wanted to go to Tiger Stadium to see him manage and listen to Ernie Harwell do the play by play. Now they are both gone. Godspeed Sparky......

The World Series was played, did anyone watch?

So I watched the World Series. It was good to see my favorite team from my childhood finally make the Series. I wish the Series would have been more competitive. But with the ratings at a 30 year low, many folks missed it anyway so the Rangers need not be to ashamed for not showing up.  The ratings for baseball has steadily decreased and I don't know if they will ever return.

Baseball is suppose to be America's pass-time. But everyone knows the sports get killed in the ratings now. Stretch run baseball pitting teams that are fighting for the play-offs get crushed by NFL pre-season games. The Chase in NASCAR bumps baseball now too. I find it ironic since I think baseball most truly represents American society. See the other two major sports try their darnest to make things fair and equal for all teams. They have salary caps and all incoming players come in through a nice orderly draft process. The playing fields have the same dimensions. Baseball doesn't care about any of this. To hell with a salary cap. As for players, the whole world is their market. They sign them as young as 16. They build academies in Hispanic nations to find the best talent as early as possible. A player defects from Cuba, he's a free agent and can sign with the highest bidder.

The thing that is most telling is the stadiums. While the pitcher's mound is uniform and the distance between bases is predetermined, everything else is open to the owner's interpretation. Can you imagine if some football fields were 110 yards while others were 95 or 98. That's what baseball does. Each team is on it own to determine field dimensions. That is the beauty of the sport. Every thing changes from day to day, game to game. 

That's the beauty of baseball in that it is different. The players have "stufff".  They go on unexplainable hot streaks and unbelievability awful cold streaks. They make errors and never can make another throw. The game is perfect for fathers and sons, families and eating. I hope it can make a comeback.