Monday, January 24, 2011

Enjoy your off-season Jay....

So this will never be you Jay Cutler:

You will never be a team leader. You will never command a huddle and have offensive lineman willing to run through a wall for you. All that is over. Yes I know you had a a bo-bo on your knee. This is America and we need to feel people have given their all. We just do. Add to that you receive millions of dollars to give maximum effort do you now see the problem? Those of us that played sports know about MCL sprains. Have you heard that Drew Brees played the entire season with a bad MCL? Oh I forgot, Brees has heart. Brees is a leader.

I seriously doubt you can go on from here. Do you think anyone in Chicago will ever have faith in you again? Probably not. Perhaps you should take the millions you've already made and retire back home to Santa Claus, IN. Its obvious you don't love the game. Once you've quick that first time, its damn easy to quit the next time things get tough. Go home Jay. We won't miss you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recapturing my fandom...

During the period that I was a football coach, I lost my fandom. I didn't actively cheer for any team. I still watched all sports but just not with the same passion. I wanted to see well played games and that was it. All my energy and passion was saved for my team and that was a total investment.

Now that I am a few years removed from the sideline, my fandom is coming back. It's kinda cool to have the excitement and anticipation back. I feel like a kid at Christmas waiting to open presents waiting for these games today. And make no mistake, I'm a fan today. My picks today are straight fan picks. I love the Jets. I love their arrogance. I love the talk. I love that they back it up. I get excited by this team. So I'm rooting for this team today. I would love to see them in the Super Bowl. Wouldn't they have the best game-week interviews ever? 

In the other game, I'm rooting for the Bears. The 85 Bears are my favorite team ever. As a child, it was the first football game in which I watched the complete game. Since then, the Bears have always held a special place in my heart. I also would like to see Lovie Smith get to another Super Bowl. Perhaps then he would get some respect as a good coach. He has got to be the least respected coach that made a Super Bowl ever. In the pre-season coaches rankings, he was ranked 20th. Norv Turner, Wade Phillips, Mike Singletary, Brad Childress, Gary Kubiac and Tony Sparano all ranked higher than Lovie. That's ridicuous. So I'm rooting for Lovie. Lastly, I have several relatives that live in Chi-town so it will be cool to see the Bears in the Super Bowl again.

My mind tells me that the Packers and the Steelers are the better teams. However, I'd love to see the Bears and Jets win. Bring on the games.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Genius? I don't think so.

So can we finally put all this genius talk to rest? Bill Belichick is not a genius. Neither is any other coach that ever blew a whistle. What separates a coach is their organizational and leadership skills. That's it. Great leaders make quick decisions and stand behind them. After that, it's all about the talent you have.

Just because the media didn't know the players, Belichick got deemed a genius for upsetting the Rams in the Super Bowl. He had some secret formula that no else had access to. Bullcrap. He had great players. He had a great quarterback, a great offensive line and a great defensive line. The media never pays any attention to lineman but any coach will tell you that lineman are the key. If you have a strong offensive live, then you can have lesser talents at running back. You have more time on passing plays. With a strong defensive line you can run any defense. Any! 3-4, 4-3, the 46 - they all are based on lineman. So with that base, the Patriots added football players and you get what we saw. Three teams that won Super Bowls by 3 points each. Never dominating but always winning the game.

Fast forward to now. That dominate offensive line is no more. All those great defensive players are gone. So what you are left with is a great quarterback who can't function under pressure. You have a defense that no longer has a great players. So when they play more talented teams in the playoffs, they lose. This is not to discredit their past success. They just don't have talent. Look at the Jets. Sanchez, Tomlinson, Cromartie, Revis, Edwards & Holmes were all first round picks. They all made big plays Sunday. The Jets just have more talent. And talents win. I know many in the media want to champion those smaller, scrappy undrafted Patriots. They want to find some coach that can really win regardless of talent. Everyone is looking for that coach that can "take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n"  Its not happening and never will. Those with talent win. Show me a coach that won big and I'll show you a team full of great players. The "genius" label needs to be retired.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Play-off picks

So I'm going with the Ravens today. I think the game will come down to which all World safety makes the most plays and I'm going with Ed Reed. This game will be a bloodbath and I expect multiple players to leave the game with injuries. I think this game will be so physical that the "winner" will be too beat up to win next week. So I think the winner of the Jets-Patriots game will make the Super Bowl. Ravens by 4.

In the 2nd game, I'm going with the Falcons. The Pack are rolling but this league is based on talent. The Pack have an awful lot of talent on injured reserve. I think that will be the difference.  I know these back-ups have been playing all season and have gained experience. However, back-ups are reserve players for a reason. A drop-off is still a drop-off regardless of how slight it is. This will be the difference in game. Atlanta by a touchdown.

For the record. Coach is picking the Ravens, Packers, Patriots & Seahawks. We shoulda bet on these. I could have won me a Fifth.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Organizational Leadership

Sorry Dolphin fans. Your favorite team will not be winning the Super Bowl anytime soon. How do I know this? Poor ownership. In professional sports, its all about ownership. Teams that win championship have strong owners or ownership groups who stand strong even against their own fan base. Who wins big in sports? The Steelers, the Lakers, the Celtics, the Yankees, the Patriots - all strong ownership groups that don't get held hostage by players nor by their fan base. Shaq wants to rock the boat, the Lakers ship him to the Heat. Kobe demands a trade, the Lakers just ignore him. The Steelers have only had 3 coaches in the teams long and storied history. The Patriots will get rid of any player at any time - see Randy Moss. Under Doc Rivers four years ago, the Celtics lost more games than anyone in the league. Ownership correctly realized that they had a good coach, they just lacked talent. They added talent and have been in the finals in 2 of the last 3 years.

I bring all this up to contrast what went on in Miami. Miami has a head coach that they did not fired. They also pursued  Jim Harbaugh after his Orange Bowl blowout. Allegedly, they never offered him the job but if your owner and general manager are across country talking to Harbaugh, it doesn't take a genius to realize that if he would have wanted the job, he would have been made an offer.  Would any of the top organizations behave this way? The answer is no. Top sports organizations don't chase coaches, they believe they can evaluate talent and hire a coach regardless of if he's a hot name or not. Losing organizations lack the confidence to do this. The simply chase the hot name.

Losing organizations also get held hostage by players. The Denver Nuggets have been held hostage by Carmelo Anthony simply because he chose to add an extra year to his contract. Melo came into the league with Lebron, Wade and Bosh. These players all chose 4 year deals instead of six when the reached free agency. Melo on the other took 5 years. You really can't blame him since he grew up in the poorest areas of Baltimore so he just couldn't turn down all those extra guaranteed dollars. That comfort on the front end turned into a bad idea on the back end. So instead of touring the country and signing where he wanted last year, he got stuck with the Nuggets. To further his problems, the collective bargaining agreement is up so he most likely will not be able to sign a deal worth as much after the new CBA than now. The team has all the leverage but they have failed to realize this. Carmelo is not going to give up potential 30 millions dollars. I'd tell him to sign or walk. What do you think the Steelers would do? How about the Lakers? Denver's management doesn't have the guts to do this though so they will cave in and trade Anthony. Melo will get his new team and still get a new contract. Denver, like Miami in the NFL, you won't be winning a title any time soon.

I'm not just picking on the the Nuggets and Dolphins. There are plenty more shining examples. The Redskins come to mind. They listen closely to fan opinion which directly correlates to them rarely making the playoffs under Dan Gilbert.  This phenomenon is not just in the pros, it occurs in college too. The University of Michigan and Nebraska listened to their fan base's call for more modern offenses so the they fired Lloyd Carr and Frank Solich respectively. We witnessed unprecedented failures at both of those institutions under the new coaches they hired. Nebraska has yet to fully recover and we will see how long it takes the Wolverines. Do you guys feel me on this? Its a about organizational leadership. What are some other examples? 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Standing Tall in the Pocket

So I had an interesting debate with a coaching buddy this weekend. My buddy "Coach" hates Peyton Manning. He hates him to his core and has since the very first day I met him 8 years ago. He does not believe Manning is a gamer. I have defended Manning for years. Manning is one of those polarizing figures that people just naturally hate. I always defend Manning because I know I have a similar bias towards Kobe Bryant. I just hate Kobe for non-basketball reasons so I defend Manning because I know firsthand about irrational biases.

While I still don't hate Manning, I think I see Coach's point. Coach doesn't think Manning will sit in the pocket and take a hit to make a completion. It is a fact that the Colts routinely lead the league in fewest sacks. Quarterbacks are taught to not take sacks and Manning has perfected that skill. He always lives to fight another down. This infuriates Coach to no end. He was a quarterback and believes sometimes, the quarterback must stand in the pocket in the face of the oncoming rushers and make the throw. To illustrate his point, he pointed out a throw that Aaron Rogers made against the Eagles in which he got pummelled. Coach said Manning would never make that throw. And its true. Peyton has never and will never stand tall in the pocket to complete a pass. He will simply throw the ball away. So on this point, I have seen the light Coach and admit you are right. One of the reasons I have always liked Brett Favre is the fact that he never gave a damn who was rushing him, he'd stay in the pocket and make the throw. Favre has a career full of TD passes that he never saw because he was laid out. Nearly every great QB has this trait. Peyton Manning, not so much.  On this point you are right Coach but you know what? I still like Peyton. What do you guys think? You like Manning? Hate him? To over-exposed? What's your thoughts?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Playoff picks

Sorry I didn't post my playoff picks for this weekend. I sat down to do it yesterday and the situation in Arizona just threw my day all off. I ended up watching the coverage and having drinks right up until the Saints game and then I had to get dressed for this party. Anyway, I would've picked the Saints and the Jets. The Saints defense never left New Orleans. The Saints desperately need a stud defensive end to rush the passer. If you live by the blitz, you sometimes also die by it. It now looks like the Falcons have a clear path to the SB.

As for the Jets game, it turned into a well played game. Clutch QB performances by Manning and Sanchez. I had to sneak away from the party to watch the end. It was well worth it.

As for today's games, I pick the Ravens and Eagles. Why? The Ravens are tough and physical and I don't think the Chiefs will be able to keep Cassel upright. The other game is a toss-up. I'm putting on my fan hat. I want to see Mike Vick march a play-off team back into Atlanta. That will be fun.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Black Monday

So I'm a strange fellow. I love Black Monday. I truly do. I love predicting who will get fired. Some teams are foolish and hastily fire a coach before it is deserved while other times, owners wait until it hits rock bottom to let a coach go. The whole process just fascinates me. This year, those mean ole owners too a lot of the fun out of Black Monday by firing so many coaches during the season. So we already know Dallas , Denver , Carolina, 49ers & Minnesota made their decisions before the season was over. It didn't take Cleveland too long to pull the plug on Eric Mangini. The Giants, Texans & Chargers have already confirmed that they are keeping their embattled coaches. So we're left with Miami, Oakland, Cincinnati, Tennessee & Jacksonville who could possibly change coaches. I think all these teams all make changes except Oakland. Al Davis knows no one really wants this job and the coach did go 8-8.  Marvin Lewis needs a change of scenery and some respect so I don't see him signing a new deal with Cincy. I think Miami has peaked under Spags and they need to go a different direction. He has proven he can't develop an pro offense. The last two are tricky. There is a battle of wills between the Ownership and Jeff Fisher in TN over Vince Young. That situation can go either way. It all depends on who is most willing to compromise.  Finally, the Jags need to make a change. Del Rio is a perfectly average coach and David Garrard is a perfectly average QB. If they couldn't overtake the injury riddled Colts this season, they never will. The need to hit restart.