Monthly Archives: September 2010

Inconsistency Kills The Yankees, Here’s How To Fix It

The Yankees Inconsistency bug finally caught up with C.C. Sabathia

The Tampa Bay Rays effectively killed the Yankees season with that 10-3 beat down last night. Am I overreacting right now? No. we just aren’t a good enough team pitching or hitting to win a championship this year or to compete with Minnesota, Texas or Tampa. So here’s my solution to the Yankees problems—next year, because its too late to save the Yankees from a first round playoff exit this year…

  1. Get Cliff Lee and make either Ivan N ova or Joba Chamberlain a starter next year. As you can see the A.J. Burnett deal is slowly fizzling into a black hole as Burnett hasn’t been able to figure his stuff out now for 3 months. unfortunately in this economic climate no one in their right mind would be willing to take on a contract from a player with 3 years and close to 50 million dollars left on it. especially for a player that can’t find the plate consistently. However, you can dump Javier Vazquez into the Hudson River this season (I meant free agency, though I wouldn’t mind the former). I think Nova is ready to be a starter and you need to find out about what Chamberlain truly is at this point. There is no way to tell if he will be a full time reliever or if they can make him a full time starter with no friggin “Joba Rules.” The rotation next year should look like this: C.C. Sabathia-Lee-Phil Hughes-Nova/Chamberlain-Burnett.
  2. Sign Joe Girardi to a long-term extension, roughly 5 years/30 million. Why? I mean the guy has won a World Series and has them in contention this year despite not having any type of starting pitching, consistency from his power hitters Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez or at the top of the lineup with Derek Jeter (more on this in a minute). Girardi has been under scrutiny for a while and there have been rumors about him taking the open Chicago Cubs job due to his affiliation with the area and the team. Its important for the Yankees to keep some level of consistency on a team where right now there is none.
  3. This is the most important note as the Yankees season winds down and it has to do with Derek Sanderson Jeter. First and foremost give that man whatever he wants for a contract for the years that he has put in with the organization and his meaning to the Yankees as a whole. By season’s end he will be the Yankees all-time leader in wins and hits and will start next season less than one hundred hits away from that magical number of 3000. Jeter’s meaning to the Yankees is more than hits or numbers; he’s been the face of the franchise since the late 90’s and could very well be the greatest Yankee ever. If he wants 25 million a year for the next 4 years then give it to him… however as great as Jeter is, Girardi has to make this big decision when it comes to the lineup—drop him to either the seventh or ninth spot in the lineup next year.

    Derek Jeter's struggles at the plate have killed the Yankees.

His production at the top of the order has been dreadful as he has been hovering around the .260 average mark for the entire second half of the season and his .332 on base percentage hasn’t made driving in runs for the middle of our lineup easy. You have to move Jeter to the end of the lineup and put Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson/ Nick Swisher in the 1-2 holes. Swisher has had a career year platooning between the 2 and 6 slots with a career high in average hovering close to .300 throughout the year. that’s what makes the Jeter quandary so tricky. You would think that Girardi knows this right now but doesn’t want to upset Jeter by moving him to an inferior portion of the Lineup. Listen Joe, I love Derek Jeter he’s been my favorite athlete for 15 years and running now—but at some point you gotta look at Jeter and say dude you have to bat there but you’re killing us here. There was a point in a series against Baltimore at home two weeks ago where we had an opportunity to score some runs with runners in scoring position and I saw that Jeter was up next and I got nauseous.

That to me has been the biggest problem with the Yankees offense this year, I think guys are hitting in all of the wrong areas on this lineup. The fact that Teixeira is hitting .254 and is still third in the lineup puzzles me. The lineup should have Gardner at the top followed by Swisher, Robinson Cano, A-rod, Tex, some combination of Jorge Posada or Lance Berkman at 6 or 7 and flip flop Jeter and Curtis Granderson at 8 or 9. That reflects how these guys have been hitting all year and would give guys like Tex and Jeter better pitches to hit to up their dismal averages. I feel Girardi is respecting his players a little too much and needs to do what is right. If he would’ve started batting Jeter in the 7, 8, 9 slot I guarantee you he would’ve gotten much better production out of him.
However, it’s a little too late to wonder about the what-ifs of this season. Unless the Yankees flip the on switch they won’t be making a run at their 28th title this year. The last two games of the Tampa series proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Inconsistent hitting, pitching and mind-blowing under achieving by guys that were expected to be major contributors to a repeat (that’s you Vazquez and you nonchalant attitude towards losing).  As a fan it stinks to watch you team win 95 games and know they won’t make a dent in the postseason, but hopefully next year Brian Cashman and company learn from their mistakes and do the right things to make this team better.

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Who’s Under Center?

All that stuff I said about Kevin? Scratch that.

So, how’s your quarterback doing? For many of the teams in the National Football League—not so well.

By the end of Monday night’s 49ers-Saints game there are more than 6 controversies and 5 other questions at quarterback. On Sunday we found Kerry Collins, Bruce Gradkowski, and Luke McCown replace turnover prone QB’s, we saw Michael Vick take a strangle hold at the position over an injured Kevin Kolb, and we saw Brett Favre and Derek Anderson stink it up to the point where maybe it should be time for a change in both places (that sound you heard was Matt Leinart snickering in the background). As for Trent Edwards—eh.

In the case for Philadelphia and Vick the situation has led to a knee-jerk reaction by Andy Reid who said on Tuesday that Mike Vick is his starter. Granted he has played well by totaling almost 600 total yards in 6 quarters but he was sacked 6 times by the Lions defense… the Lions. They lost to a Super Bowl contender in Green Bay and still have to play Minnesota’s stout d-line and the Cowboys and Giants. For Reid to make such a quick decision when the plan was to develop Kevin Kolb and contend down the road will come back to haunt him, also IT’S TWO GAMES AND IT’S MICHAEL VICK!!! He’s barely a lifetime 50% passer. You ever taken statistics? You go with past trends over recent numbers because you’ve seen more of the former than the latter. Unfortunately Reid isn’t getting this memo and he’s about to find out the hard way.

For other scenario’s you have to wonder what the ramifications of replacing these quarterbacks will be. Bruce Gradkowski did do an excellent job after Jason Campbell was pulled, however it’s two games and it was the Rams. Now you have Campbell, who probably has lost trust in Cable, looking over his shoulder at a QB who isn’t a starting QB in this league. You’ve got to let him gel with his receivers (who honestly aren’t that good) and gain some trust in him. Then again, it is the Raiders, who love drama more than any other team in the league.

Then there’s Vince Young (speaking of constant drama). Young is on the hot seat, again, after getting run into the ground by the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and committing 3 turnovers and looking just plain bad. So now he’s involved in another carousel with Collins and at this point you have to wonder if maybe the Titans are close to just ending the Vince Young experiment and moving on and into the pool this draft for a new quarterback. The inconsistencies are becoming too much of a theme with Young and its year 5. Young had the job from the jump and aside from a few plays he hasn’t really had any big impact on Tennessee. This weekend at New York could be the breaking point for Vince. If he has another horrendous start and is benched for Collins, that’s it. He’s coming to the end of his rookie deal and with his poor performances popping up again it probably means that the Titans will not shell out another 4 years and X amount of dollars for a quarterback that has never lived up to the hype that he created in the 4th quarter at the Rose Bowl versus USC.

I miss college.

(side note: that 2006 Rose Bowl game, while still one of the greatest in college history, is becoming less and less relevant to the players involved years after it happened. It was a gluttony of overhyped talent that never panned out. Matt Leinart got booted out of Arizona in favor of Derek Anderson, Young has never transformed into the big play quarterback that he was billed as at Texas, Lendale White and Michael Huff are certified bums and Reggie Bush… I’ll spare him; he’s sort of having a bad week.)

So what about the other QB troubles in the league? Here’s my take on all of them:

BUFFALO

CONTROVERSY: Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over for Trent Edwards… somewhere in the world J.P. Losman is probably still wondering how he lost his job to Trent Edwards… he aint the only one.

CLEVELAND

SITUATION: Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme… Ryan Mallett.

TENNESSEE

CONTROVERSY: Vince Young still starting over Kerry Collins… I still hate Kerry Collins. I wouldn’t trust him to run a kwik-e-mart.

JACKSONVILLE

SITUATION: David Garrard over Luke McCown. Garrard will be the starter until the end of the season when the Jags jettison him for either Jake Locker or Mallett.

OAKLAND

CONTROVERSY: Jason Campbell vs. Bruce Gradkowski. Yet to be determined if Oakland is smart then they won’t even think about benching Campbell again for a career backup. Campbell was brought in there to be the guy and you can’t bench him twice in three weeks. On the bright side for Campbell its business as usual. Underachieving, looking lost in an offense, getting replaced by a lifetime backup, the usual.

PHILADELPHIA

CONTROVERSY: Vick over Kolb. If Andy Reid blows this then he’s getting fired at the end of the season. The Eagles could possibly lose three NFL quality quarterbacks in ten months. That’s got to be a record or something.

MINNESOTA

SITUATION: Favre… is it really inconceivable to think that Favre could be replaced by Tarvaris Jackson. Favre looks terrible. Two of three picks were absolutely horrendous throws and he has no faith in any receivers other than Visanthe Shaincoe. By the time Sidney Rice does come back from Knee surgery the Vikings might be done. The offense has lost so much mojo that even if they do turn into a heavy run based team they still won’t be an effective passing team which makes Favre useless. Not that he already wasn’t.

CAROLINA

CONTROVERSY: Jimmy Clausen over Matt Moore. It could be Casey Clausen and I would still start him over Matt Moore. Don’t be surprised if you walk into John Fox’s office this week and he’s updating his resume.

ARIZONA

Maybe there was a reason Cleveland let him go.

SITUATION: Derek Anderson with two inexperienced quarterbacks behind him. Going back to Sunday when watching the Cardinals offense I looked at Larry Fitzgerald at one point… he looks mad. Derek Anderson can’t find him and can’t throw a consistent pass. The Cardinals look lost on offense and has no identity. They are trying to keep that same high octane offense going that they had when Kurt Warner was around and its not plausible with a QB who can’t complete more than 52% of his passes. Don’t be surprised if every Cardinals player calls up Dancing With The Stars to vote Kurt Warner off and gets him back to Glendale… or kidnaps Leinart… who they never should’ve let go of in the first place. Good job Ken Whisenhunt.

COLLEGE BONUS: MIAMI

SITUATION: Jacory Harris or A.J. Highsmith. If Harris has another road stinker like he had against Ohio State, or North Carolina last year, or Virginia Tech last year, then he should stick to creating fashion trends like he did with his overalls and let Highsmith take the reins.


The Rockies Time Of Year

So It’s September, football is starting, the leaves are changing… And the Rockies are making their annual playoff push.

It happened in 2007 when the Rockies winning ways landed them a spot in the Series versus Boston, it happened last year during another playoff push sans Matt Holliday, and it’s happening again this year thanks to a 10 game winning streak that has pushed the Rockies to within a game and a half of first place in the NL West.

How have they done it? How do all great runs happen? Timely hitting, great pitching and a little luck. The pitching has come from this year’s Cy Young leader Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez has been the man ever since he no-hit the Braves in the spring and has cruised to a sub 3 ERA and a NL high 18 wins. Also Matt Belisle has been a strong man out of the bullpen with a 2.75 ERA.

Just another September in Colorado.

Of course this is Colorado, so offense is still the main attraction. With Ruan Spilborghs and Troy Tulowitzki coming up with clutch hits time and time again they have offset a dismal year from the always steady Todd Helton. However, the man has been Carlos Gonzalez who has had the breakout year of breakout years.

(there’s something about that number 5 in left field ther, just ask Holliday.)

Gonzalez is one of the three triple crown, MVP candidates in the NL, leading the league with a .337 batting average, 4th in home runs and 3rd in RBI. Gonzalez’s breakout year desperately filled a void in the lineup left by Holliday a year ago and has added a great component to an already
potent lineup.

Lastly luck always a big role in the Rockies late runs… And it seems to invoke the San Diego Padres in some way.

In 2007 the Padres led the NL wildcard, but faltered late down the stretch which coincided with the Rockies run of 20 straight wins and included that breathtaking playoff game that ended with a Holliday faceplant.

This year the Rockies winning ways come during the Padres 10 game losing streak which watched them go from ten up on the Rockies in August to a game and a half lead today, which includes a three game sweep by Colorado earlier this month in San Diego. The Padres must love watching Colorado play in rocktober.

You can also thank the unknown players for giving Colorado a boost. Besides Belisle, players like Jason Giambi (Yankee great) have come up with clutch game winning hits to put the Rocks over the edge.

The question is can the Rockies do it again?

Three times in four years seems like a lot to ask out of one team, but the Rockies have turned this into an art form. It’s as if Colorado flips the on switch on August 31st and it runs deep into October.

This week’s series against San Diego will be their latest test.

The Padres haven’t been able to score runs at all in their last 15 games… Heck all season! However, in the offense friendly confines of Coord Field Adrian Gonzalez and company may be able to get it going.

If the Rockies can Take two from the Padres at Coors that would leave them a Hal game back with less than 20 games to go with 10 games left against non playoff competition while San Diego still has series left against St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Colorado could essentially put themselves in the drivers seat with a great series in the next 3 days.

If it happens again we shouldn’t be surprised. This is Colorado’s time of year. Leaves changing colors, weather turning colder, and the Rockies getting on a role and making a late postseason push. You may be amazed. Me? I’m used to it. I’m surprised they haven’t won 15 straight by now.


Tough Day To Be In The ACC

This is Florida State's and the ACC's day in a nutshell.

The good news for the ACC from yesterday is that Virginia hung in with USC and almost upset them in Los Angeles and the conference the most exciting game from yesterday with a 54-48 shootout between Duke and Wake Forest… yeah that’s right Duke and Wake Forest combined for 102 points and 1000 yards of offense.

The bad news… well… just about everything else. Two high profile nationally televised games, a team coming off of a highly publicized game faced an FCS opponent, and a road test against an inferior BCS conference opponent all went wrong for the so called power conference and went wrong in horrifying ways.

Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, the big 4 in their conference got shelled in each of their games. Miami got careless with the ball versus a hungry Ohio State team, Florida State got run off the field against Oklahoma, Georgia Tech had its secondary exposed by Kansas and Virginia Tech lost a home game against James Madison—of the FCS—a team that went 6-5 in the FCS last year—THE FCS!!!

This season is so not going how we planned it.

The ACC has been talked about in recent years as being the weakest of the power conferences and yesterday’s poor showings did absolutely nothing to curb those feelings. What’s interesting about these games is their poor showings in big matchups in recent years.

The ACC is 1-9 in BCS bowl games including Georgia Tech getting beat-up by Iowa in the Orange Bowl last year. Then look at their games against big game competition. Florida State hasn’t beaten Florida in 5 years; Tech has beaten 8 out of nine times by Georgia. The conferences season kick-off classic versus the SEC has been a joke with Alabama and LSU stomping out Clemson, Virginia Tech and UNC. Then Boise State had a virtual road game with the Hokies and jumped out to a 17-0 lead eventually beating Virginia Tech in the last minute 33-30.

Then there was yesterday. There was no excuse for Miami or Florida State to play as poor as they did on the national stage with all of that talent like they did.

Miami came into Columbus, Ohio talking about revenge over the 2003 National Championship game where a controversial pass interference call cost them their sixth national championship. They left with their so-called swagger slapped right out of them.

The Buckeyes caused four turnovers thanks to Jacory Harris’s poor play and if not for two special teams scores or the stalling of the OSU offense the score would’ve been a lot worse. Miami was pushed around on both sides of the ball and Terrelle Pryor strengthened his Heisman Candidacy with an all-around impressive performance. “Feeling good doesn’t always end up good,” Harris said after the game. No kidding. For all of the hype about the game it all came crashing to a halt when Cameron Heyward picked off a Harris pass on Miami’s opening drive in the third quarter and returned it the OSU red zone. So much for that swagger.

Hey this is better than throwing another interception.

At least Miami hung around. Florida State got a Boomer Sooner smack down. Traveling half-way across the country just to get destroyed defeats the purpose of scheduling such a game, unfortunately the Noles didn’t see it that way. Landry Jones and the Sooners offense got rolling and the Noles could only watch and not be willing participants. The Sooners rebounded from a poor performance against Utah State to easily handle Florida State and put themselves back in the national title talk. The Seminoles have nothing to do but more tweaking. “When you play good football teams and they get hot you have to match them, and you have to match them in all three phases,” said Jimbo Fisher, Florida State’s head coach. ” We matched them one time on offense and then we got pushed back on field position and didn’t execute.” His aforementioned statement is something the whole conference should take heed to.

For Georgia Tech it was a matter of taking a team for granted. After a humiliating 6-3 loss to North Dakota State the Kansas Jayhawks scored their biggest win since a Orange Bowl victory over (you guessed it, an ACC team) Virginia Tech.

“They came out mad,” said Yellow Jacket quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. “You could tell that they came out mad from losing their last game and they came out hungry.” Unfortunately for Georgia Tech they couldn’t match the intensity and couldn’t overcome a late 11 point deficit. The relatively young Jackets defense struggled in some instances to stop Kansas even though they only allowed 320 yards of offense. They routinely missed tackles and it showed on Daymond Patterson’s game clinching 32 yard touchdown reception to put the Jayhawks up 28-17 in the fourth quarter. The defense gave Kansas QB Joe Webb too much time to throw the ball and make plays and he burned them.

Meanwhile on the other side of the ball the Jackets normal running game was superb as they ran for 291 yards out of Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. However, when they needed to get back in the game throwing the ball Josh Nesbitt once again showed why he is a one-trick pony. Nesbitt was 5-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown, however he is not accurate at all and the offense if ever in a hole will suffer time and time again. Johnson has to figure out a way to get something out of the passing game going down the road or else the Jackets will see this same result over and over again.

Maybe we should start throwing the ball.

Lastly there’s Virginia Tech… yikes. Coming off of a huge showcase game versus Boise State, you go out onto your actual home field and get pushed around by James Madison? An FCS school?

You couldn’t score more than 16 points against a team that allowed 38 to Maryland last year? Three turnovers all in the red zone versus a 6-5 team… FROM THE FCS!!?? REALLY?!?! Dude I know Mississippi and Minnesota just lost to FCS opponents, but at least they dropped 49 and 38 points respectively.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” tailback Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech running back said. “I really don’t.” I’ll give you a hint… TURNOVERS AND MISCUES ARE KILLING YOU!

If it wasn’t the special teams miscues from Monday’s thriller it was the Darren Evans fumble on the Dukes 19 yard line that sealed their fate. The offensive line couldn’t create holes for Ryan Williams who finished with 91 rushing yards. Tyrod Taylor looked nothing like the monster that he was versus the Broncos as he threw a costly interception and under threw Jarrett Boykin on a 4th down play that could’ve put the Hokies up early in the fourth quarter.

For a team that was seriously considered as a national title contender, this lost may put them in the back of the ACC title race.

Not that the ACC title would be anything to brag about. This Saturday put the ACC in the afterthought of the minds of college football when talking about the big names in the game. An ACC team will not play for the national championship, hell they won’t even be favored in the Orange Bowl against whoever they play. Right now the ACC is an inferior conference that needs to improve on its regular season results against bigger competition before we start talking about revivals in Tallahassee and Coral Gables, and national titles in Blacksburg and Atlanta.

For now let’s see if they can handle Pittsburgh, Rutgers, East Carolina and BYU in the next two weeks. If it’s anything like this past weekend’s results, it won’t be pretty.


NFL Preview: The Hype Edition

Yeah, Carson ok'd this.

This offseason has been an eventful one to say the least in the NFL. There were more trades made than any that I could remember in recent years and the names weren’t small by any means.

Super Bowl MVP’s, consistent Pro Bowlers, consistent QB’s and franchise legends all changed hands at one point or another this offseason. We saw a guy get traded within his own division to a rival, and that rival turned around and traded their QB to one of the most poorly run franchises in the game, which allowed them to release their bust of No. 1 draft pick… and that was the beginning.

Transactions moved into intriguing, the Seahawks felt more comfortable in trusting a wide receiver that hasn’t played competitive football in three years over an established Pro Bowler who just so happened to sign a 40 million dollar deal last year (and made 20 million dollars for one year of service as it turns out, I really should’ve played football.). The Bengals signed a receiver for 28 million but cut him two months later because of his poor injury plagued performance and will take their chances with one of the biggest cancers in the NFL. Then there are all of the Jets expensive moves.

It’s all backlash or one last gasp if you will before the CBA expires this year. It is an uncapped year and everyone is going crazy with deals. Cap hits don’t matter this year, if you want to drop a guy even though he hasn’t had a chance to live up to his deal? Do it. There might not be football next year so what is there to lose?

That’s why the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to the Eagles within their division, that’s why the Jets acquired everyone accept Jerry Rice it seems this season. That’s why this year has more of a Madden football game feel to it. It’s like GM’s woke up turned on an XBOX and said screw it. Let’s see if this works.

I can't be too mad, they did give me 20 million for one year.

It’s also lead to a lot of hype throughout the league. The Seahawks have expectations with their new head coach (USC escapee Pete Carroll), The Ravens are the trendy Super Bowl pick as are the Cowboys due to the Super Bowl being held in their stadium, and even the Redskins are a trendy pick to win the NFC East just because they traded for McNabb. Oh yeah then there’s the usual stories, discontent in San Diego where A.J. Smith seems to the only GM trying to save money and it looks like it’s going to hurt him in the long run? Is this the year Houston finally takes the next step? Are the Saints ready to repeat? Is this it for the Patriots? Oh and a certain quarterback in Minnesota who is back… again.

The league is constantly full of hype and bloated expectations and this one might be the worst year ever. Teams are being awarded trophies due to hype and possibility. It’s almost hard to decipher what should be believed or not. Fortunately I’m not big on believing what anyone says, ever. Here are your NFL teams, hype factor and reality.

NEW YORK JETS 11-5

Hype factor 10 out of 10: Paper Super Bowl Champions due to acquiring Super Bowl MVP Santanio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Antonio Cromartie. Add in an appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks and there in full hype mode.

Reality Check: There quarterback is in his second year, there starting running back is in his first season and Mark Sanchez’s number one receiver is Braylon Edwards (no comment). Also Cromartie’s production has declined since his ten pick season a few years ago. Also Rex Ryan’s mouth might be the ultimate downfall of this team.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 10-6

Hype, 6: nothing big coming out of Boston except contract disputes and wondering if Wes Welker can come back at full strength from a torn ACL

Reality: Tom Brady said he hates the Jets, like really hates them. Also this Rob Gronkowski pick for Arizona might have a bigger impact than Holmes.

MIAMI DOLPHINS 9-7

Hype, 7: It’s pretty much a maybe team. Maybe they can hang with the Jets, Maybe Brandon Marshall is the big threat on offense, maybe the defense is intact and Vontae Davis can turn into Darrelle Revis 2.0.

Reality: Maybe Henne’s ready to be the man, maybe the defense can stop the Pats and Jets from scoring; maybe they can make the playoffs… maybe.

BUFFALO BILLS 3-13

Hype, 1: correction, C.J. Spiller hype, 10. Rest of team, -9.

Reality: no offensive line, no receivers, no consistent defense. (With the second pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the Buffalo Bills select Jake Locker, QB, Washington.)

CINCINATTI BENGALS 12-4

Trust me my foot can't fit in here

Hype, 9: T.O. and Ocho. Carson Palmer actually signed off on this and I still don’t know why.

Reality: They had a top ten defense last year and Jonathan Joseph has turned into a top flight cornerback. Plus Antwan Odom returns this year and the defense should be the catalyst for a big year. However, as much hype that there is on the offense it lies in the hands of Carson Palmer. His performance, more than anyone else’s, will decide the fate of this team. If he plays like pre-injury Palmer? Super Bowl. If he plays like last year? Wildcard.

BALTIMORE RAVENS 9-7

Hype, 8: building two consecutive successful runs, they’ve add Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmanzadeh to make for a potent offense. They are the favorites to make it out of the AFC North and into the Super Bowl.

Reality: ED Reed is out for six games; the secondary had problems against potent passing games last year and will struggle again this year. Playoffs? Yes. Super Bowl? No.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS 7-9

Hype, 4: Big Ben will be back in week 5 and Troy Polamalu is fully recovered from injuries last year.

Reality: they’re putting all of their in Mike Wallace to be the man at wide receiver this year. Also the defense started out fast last year and faded late. Interesting to see if they can reverse that trend.

CLEVELAND BROWNS 6-10

Hype, 2: mike Holmgren is turning the team around slowly but surely.

Reality: there about 3 years away from any major discussion.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 12-4

Hype, 3: It’s Indy. They don’t have hype, they just play.

Reality: They’re the best team in the AFC still. However, how healthy will they be come the playoffs?

HOUSTON TEXANS 10-6

Hype, 5: this is their playoff year. No seriously, this is it.

Reality: I’m serious they make the turn this year. Matt Schaub is a dark horse MVP candidate and Andre Johnson is locked up and properly paid. Plus they now have a pass rusher to help Mario Williams.

(Which reminds me, we really need to collectively send Charlie Casserly a card and gift basket stating how wrong we were to clown him about choosing Williams over Reggie Bush and Vince Young? Both Young and Bush have become decent role players but nothing like the game changers we thought they would be. Williams is among the league leaders in sacks in the last three years and anchors a really good front 7 in Houston. Meanwhile Young is just starting to get a grip on the Titans starting job and Bush has been hampered by injuries and other offenses (ah hem, USC scandal), Casserly should be walking around with and “I told you so!” t-shirt on… well if Houston didn’t fire him.)

TENNESSEE TITANS 8-8

Hype, 8: Chris Johnson wants to run for 2500 yards, people feel that Vince Young will take off this year and that they can contend with Indy.

Reality: no, no, no. Vince Young’s receivers have to be great in order to give Johnson running room because everyone will stack the line against them this year. Also the defense is rebuilding after releasing Kyle Vandenbosch and Keith Bullock.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 2-14

Hype, 0: to match their attendance.

Reality: this team is Maurice Jones-Drew and that’s it. (with the first pick in the 2011 NFL the Jacksonville Jaguars select RYAN MALLETT, QB, ARKANSAS.)

OAKLAND RAIDERS 9-7

Hype, 3: Jason Campbell brings them stability behind center (finally).

I can't believe this place is more stable than Washington.

Reality: they don’t have refined receivers, but the Raiders are going to shock people, they might actually be good. They’ve settled on Michael Bush at running back and Zach Miller should have a big year. Also, did you realize that the Raiders had the number seven pass defense in the league last year and were third in the NFL with 49 sacks? Hmmmmm….

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 8-8

Hype, 4: They’ve won the division by default the last three years.

Reality: there are so many unhappy people in San Diego you think that they are the Raiders. Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill are holding out, Shawne Merriman reluctantly signed a one-year and their placing their offense hopes on rookie runner Ryan Matthews and an aging Antonio Gates. Norv Turner your clock starts… NOW!

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 6-10

Hype, 2: The combination of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones? Yes. Matt Cassel? No.

Reality: the offense will be decent… the defense? Third worst in the league last year and still needs work.

(By the way they drafted every big name SEC defensive player in the last few years (Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson) and they’ve been absolute failures. What does this mean about the dominance of the powerful SEC talent pool? I mean these guys are bums, so is Jay Cutler and Percy Harvin is having more headaches than Lindsay Lohan’s publicist. Was the SEC really all it was cracked up to be or did they blind us with a lot of substance like speed and strength to cover up the fact that these guys really can’t play football? And does this make you wonder about how Eric Berry and Javier Arenas will do there?)

DENVER BRONCOS 5-11

Hype, 10: TEBOW-MANIA!!!!

Reality: TEBOW’S GONNA BE A BUM!!! You can’t teach a guy a throwing motion in two weeks and think it’s going to stick when Jared Allen is trying to rip his head off. Also Tebow learned a valuable lesson in his first preseason game about how different this league is and why he won’t succeed. Late in the 4th quarter against Cincinnati he took off for the end  zone like he did in Florida and thought he would just run over a third string linebacker and score. Unfortunately he forgot to realize that NFL linebackers are NCAA defensive ends and got floored. Now if you notice when he runs out of the pocket (if he does) he’s bracing himself for the apocalypse. The Broncos made a huge mistake taking Tebow and they are going to realize that the hype machine and sainthood of the Church of Tebow is nice to sell jerseys because he’s a nice guy, but it won’t win them games in the future. (Josh McDaniels, you’re on the clock.)

NEW YORK GIANTS 11-5

Hype, 0: because the other team in New York is getting all of it.

Reality: injuries killed them last year and they still beat this year’s favorites, the Cowboys twice, now they’re healthy. Eli Manning is coming off of his best season and Keith Bullock fills their void in the middle. Also, you think that defense still isn’t furious about their poor showing last year?

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 10-6

Hype, 2: No one believes in Kevin Kolb.

Reality: Kevin Kolb is going to shine. Also they have the best running back in the NFC East in LeSean McCoy (that is if Andy Reid will run the ball) and the best one-two receiving punch in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. Oh and Trent Cole and company on defense, don’t think I forgot about that.

DALLAS COWBOYS 9-7

Hype, 9: It’s the Cowboys of course they’re hyped up.

Reality: Do you trust the following? Tony Romo for a full season? Any of their backs staying healthy? Miles Austin to replicate his year last year? Roy Williams, at all? Anyone on that overrated secondary making plays? Exactly.

WASHINGTON REDKINS 7-9

Even Diddy knows the Giants are the best team in New York

Hype, 9: McNabb Mania has taken D.C. my storm.

Reality: no protection, no run game, an aging Santana Moss and a defense transitioning to a 3-4 without 3-4 players. Oh, we forgot about all of that.

GREEN BAY PACKERS 13-3

Hype, 6: Aaron Rodgers for MVP part 2, if his line can hold up.

Reality: Ryan Grant, RUN HARD AND GOOD THINGS WILL HAPPEN. They are the best team in the NFC due to equal parts of playmakers on offense and defense.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS 10-6

Hype, 10: you know why.

Reality: even the Viking are sick of you know who. While the defense will be great as always not having a healthy Sidney Rice or Percy Harvin hurts the offense.

(Side fact: who leads the NFL in fumbles lost in the last three seasons? Adrian Peterson. As explosive a runner that he is, do you think he’ll lose carries late games because of that fact? Hmmmm…)

CHICAGO BEARS 7-9

Hype, 4: Julius Peppers helps, but he can’t catch passes, not that Jay Cutler would complete them.

Reality: say good-bye to Lovie Smith after this year. It’s a wrap for him, and the Bears should consider the same for Cutler if he throws 20 more interceptions.

DETROIT LIONS 5-11

Hype, 0: long way to go, but getting better.

Reality: Matt Stafford is already getting better, and Ndamukong Suh is adding some much needed toughness to this team. Don’t believe me? Ask Jake Delhomme’s neck.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 14-2

Hype, 9: I mean they are the Super Bowl champs.

Reality: their toughest games are all on the road, Dallas, Baltimore and Cincinnati. Two of those teams can’t defend the pass. Drew Brees has about 30 receivers… plus they play in the NFC South… you do the math.

ATLANTA FALCONS 9-7

Hype, 2: Michael Turner is healthy and Matt Ryan should bounce back from an iffy second year.

Reality: The NFC East and North will have two teams each in the playoffs. The Falcons don’t have what it takes to get a wildcard.

CAROLINA PANTHERS 5-11

Hype, 0: unless you count the John Fox lame duck coach watch.

Reality: Smash, Dash and little else.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 3-13

Hype, 0: there really is no reason to watch them, at all.

Reality: no seriously I have nothing to say about them… at all.

No, trust me, we suck

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 9-7

Hype, 5: When Vernon Davis is calling out guys for not playing hard, you know a change is coming.

Reality: is Alex Smith finally ready to lead San Francisco? I think so, as long as he gets Frank Gore 20-25 touches a game, limits his mistakes and lets Patrick Willis and the defense run shop like they’re supposed to.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 6-10

Hype, 6: Pete Carroll’s great escape takes him to a team with age, health and depth issues.

Reality: they’re in rebuild mode, don’t expect much.

ARIZONA CARDINALS 6-10

Hype, 3: They’re going to miss Kurt Warner…

Reality: … and Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle. If I were Ken Whisenhunt I would give the offense a steady diet of Beanie Wells to keep the defense off the field. That and don’t place any trust in Derek Anderson… AT ALL!!!

ST. LOUIS RAMS 3-13

Hype, 0: Poor Steve Spagnuolo.

Reality: Poor Sam Bradford.

Hopefully if all is right in the world, then the Super Bowl will be The Green Bay Packers versus the Cincinnati Bengals with Cincinnati winning it all, but who knows. The way this year is shaping up it could be a crapshoot for the title. Just don’t believe the hype.

AFC EAST- New York Jets

AFC NORTH- Cincinnati Bengals

AFC SOUTH- Indianapolis Colts

AFC WEST- Oakland Raiders

WILDCARD- Houston Texans, New England Patriots

NFC EAST- New York Giants

Dude, everyone likes me more than you now.

NFC NORTH- Green Bay Packers

NFC SOUTH- New Orleans Saints

NFC WEST- San Francisco 49ers

WILDCARDS- Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- Green Bay vs. New Orleans

MVP- Aaron Rodgers

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR- Chris Johnson

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR- Patrick Willis

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR- Jason Campbell

COACH OF THE YEAR- Mike Singletary

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- Jahvid Best

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- Rolando McClain


Boise State Is The Real Deal

In case you missed the memo… Boise State is the real deal. Want proof? Monday in Washington D.C. in a “neutral site” game against Virginia Tech (about a four hour drive from Blacksburg, VA). The Broncos emphatically answered their critics with a 33-30 victory over the ACC favorite Virginia Tech Hokies and positioned themselves for a national title run.

Boise State passes its test. Now bigger things await.

Boise State proved without a shadow of a doubt that belonged among the big dogs of college football with their    victory over Virginia Tech. Kellen Moore’s game clinching 57 yard drive late in the fourth quarter put Boise up for good and put an end to the doubts that the Broncos were big time.

Boise jumped out to a 17-0 lead that was in part due to the Hokies untimely special team mistakes. A blocked punt and missed field goal led to Kellen Moore leading the offense to easy points in short yardage situations 

However the Hokies fought back. Tyrod Taylor showed why he should be the ACC player of the year by making plays with his feet avoiding tacklers at every turn making up for Ryan Williams lackluster performance and putting the Hokies up 30-26 in the fourth quarter.

The Broncos hung in there at every turn thanks to D.J. Harper’s 71 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Also thanks to timely plays by the secondary including a huge breakup by Brandyn Thompson on Virginia Tech’s last drive of the game.

However, the biggest star of the game was Kellen Moore (my Heisman pick thank you). Moore led the drive that would ultimately seal Va Tech’s fate by going 4-5 and findong Austin Pettis on a key third down and eventually on the game winning drive to put the Broncos up for good and add to their legacy. Once Taylor’s last last pass fell short the Broncos escaped their neutral site road game with a win and a realistic shot at the national title. Moore himself is now At the top of the Heisman list with his 3 touchdown performance.

“We’re certainly proving people right right now,” Moore said. He’s absolutely right. Boise was a skeptical favorite by many due to their high ranking. But Chris Peterson’s team certain played the necessary game to prove their doubters wrong.

For Va Tech it’s another bad loss for the ACC which has been the butt of jokes as far as the power conferences go. Heading into this weekend Miami and Florida State have to find a way to bring up the respectability value for the conference in road games versus Ohio State and Oklahoma.

For now this is Boise’s time. For years there has been talk of how good Boise is and how they need to prove it. now they have nothing to prove. The Boise State Broncos are rightfully in the national title hunt, and if the Buckeyes or Crimson Tide should dare to slip, the Broncos are ready and willing to take their place.

And this time we saw it with our eyes against a national power. I guess seeing really is believing.


Whisenhunt Better Be Right About Anderson

Whisenhunt's decision to take Derek Anderson over Matt Leinart is an iffy one.

If you believed for one second that Matt Leinart had any shot at being the Arizona Cardinals quarterback at any point once Ken Whisenhunt walked into the building as the new head coach then you need your head examined.

Leinart had as much of a shot at being the man in Glendale as I do at playing professional football. None.

From the moment he stepped foot in the door Whisenhunt made it clear that Leinart was not his guy and that he wasn’t much for caring where Leinart was placed on his depth chart. To him Leinart was just an expensive leftover from the Dennis Green regime that he was taking over and it was the one part on the field that he couldn’t get rid of… Just put in the back somewhere next to Emmitt Smith’s unfortunate year there and the David Boston era.

Was Whisenhunt’s decision to start Kurt Warner the right one? Absolutely. Warner led the Cardinals to a  near Super Bowl victory over Whisenhunt’s ex-employer the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 43. However his handling of The Leinart situation has been unfortunate and near-sighted.

It was widely believed that Leinart was to be the man to relieve Warner of his duties once he retired, that’s  why he was drafted in the first place. Yet Whisenhunt after the second preseason game decided he had seen enough of Leinart and made Derek Anderson his number one quarterback.

(that sound you just heard was Cleveland fans laughing under their breath.)

The widespread reasoning was that Anderson was leading the offense better than Leinart. However, here are a few things to consider:

1. Larry Fitzgerald was no where near the football field during the preseason games. So I don’t know maybe that’s why the offense wasn’t running well.

2. The preseason offensive schemes are so vanilla it’s silly.

3. You’re judging a qb off of four offensive series in two games. FOUR!

Once Whisenhunt was hired Leinart never had a chance.

Also while Anderson did put points on the board (3 points against Tennessee. OOOOOHHHH.) Leinart had a better completion percentage and QB rating than Anderson. So in reality Leinart was a better QB.
Unfortunately for Leinart it wasn’t enough to save his job as a starter or with the team. Leinart was released this weekend by the Cardinals and now if Anderson isn’t the guy Whisenhunt thinks he is he’ll have Second year man John Skelton and rookie Max Hall to choose from. No bueno indeed.

Whisenhunt said that Leinart being put in a position to succeed was “up for debate” and that a fresh start was probably a good thing for Leinart and the Cardinals. In other words the one inheritance from that he didn’t want want from the Denny Green era was finally gone and he can run the show his way from top to bottom now.

For Cardinals fans you can only hope that Whisenhunt’s overzealousness to get rid of Leinart was the right move. While Anderson is a very capable quarterback his accuracy is a major concern. Also with Anquan Boldin out of the picture Larry Fitzgerald will see a lot more double and while Steve Breaston is an excellent slot receiver it’s yet to be determined if he is a capable number two receiver.

Whatever happens I hope Whisenhunt is happy with his decision. There are two knowns in the NFL:

1. Good quarterback play leads to good job security.

2. Getting to a Super Bowl only grants you a limited grace period among fans an the organization (ask Lovie Smith and Bill Callahan).

Whisenhunt he has a lot riding on Derek Anderson. If the Cards continue to win it’ll be no big deal. However, if they don’t then then organization will be disappointed that it lost 40 million on a quarterback without ever seeing what he was capable of and it will fall all on Whisenhunt’s head. For his sake, I hope he’s right because if not then he might be looking for a new job after next year.