End of the NFL Season

Well, it’s over.  At least as far as I am concerned.  There is no team left I want to root for in the play offs.  Oh, I’ll probably still watch the Super Bowl, but that’ll be about it.  But today was “Black Monday” for three head coaches.

Rod Marinelli:  I like Rod.  Really I do.  He got saddled with a bad team, with the worst general manager in the history of the NFL (Matt Millen), and a lot of player personel moves that baffled the mind.  Yet he kept an even keel, handled a very aggressive and hostile press with aplomb, and did everything with in his power to keep that team from outright quitting on the season.  Heck, even his good bye press conference was class.  Marinelli still has a future in the NFL.  It will certainly be a few years before he gets another head coaching shot, but someone will pick him up as a coordinator.

Romeo Crenel: The clock was ticking on Romeo several weeks ago.  When the GM got fired yesterday, his fate was sealed.  Crenel had some good moments in Cleveland, but he just couldn’t maintain the momentum, and keep the franchise moving forward.  This season was a severe back slide, and threw the whole organization into a bit of chaos.  Yes, they had some key injuries, but the degree of indecisivieness, especially when it came to quarter backs, really put a hurt on the team.  Romeo may be able to go back to a coordinator position, maybe in Detroit, but his days as a head coach are probably done.

Eric Mangini: The supposed “Mangenious” is out as head coach of the NY Jets.  This guy was over rated long before this season began.  His best coaching move may have been to out Bill Belichik’s use of video tape.  He got lucky last year, as so many players over achieved.  This year, he couldn’t handle the Favre drama, or even coach his team out of a funk that killed thier season.  I’m sure ESPN will hire him to do some commentary on ESPN News.

Other teams are casting about looking for new head coaches.  The Raiders will do something stupid, as Al Davis is still running things, even though the game has passed him by.  That is a shame to a degree, because the Raiders do have a good young core to work with.  But they need someone who is current with today’s NFL, and more so the collegiate game than Al Davis to put it all together.  Jim Haslet may or may not stick around with the LA Rams.  The players would like him to stay, but his record after taking over is less than inspiring.  Mike Singletary’s time in San Fran may be limited.  I suspect he’ll get next year to do something, and oif he doesn’t, there’ll be a new opening there as well.  Herm Edwards may be done in Kansas City as well.   They had a disater of a year (topped only by Detroit), and don’t have much left on the team to look forward with.

Now, on to my rant.  The Cowboys.

This should have been a spectacular year.  The team imporved over the off season in terms of personel.  They had a solid draft, and should have been building off of last year, play off loss and all.  But that didn’t happen.  Yesterday’s game just showed that they didn’t deserve to be in the play offs this year.  I can’t recall any other game, where the Cowboys failed to show up and play like that game against the Eagles.

I won’t blame Wade Phillips like so many out there like to and want to.  Too much that sunk this season was beyond his control.  The injuries to Tony Romo, Jason Whitten, Kyle Koisur, Flozell Adams, et al, is not something that a coach can control.  Those injuries, particularly Romo, cost the Cowboys probably 3 wins, if not 4.  Then there’s Jerry Jones.  He just couldn’t leave well enough alone this year.  His problem is that he panics too quickly, and usually over the wrong things.  Case in point, the trade for Roy Williams.  If this was an off season move, I’d still have said they were over paying for Williams, but it woudl be a good pick up.  But midseason?  This proved to be too disruptive a move IMO.  Williams never had enough time to get comfortable with the offense, or with Romo.  Jason Garrett never had the time to get Williams properly integrated into the offensive schemes to take advantage of his talents.    Give Roy the off season, and a full training camp with Romo and the offense, and he should take off next year, and be the complement to TO that he can and should be.

A note on the Adam (Pac-Man) Jones saga.  I feel sorry for this kid.  I think he’s finally getting his life turned around, and had a very up and down season, between the suspension, the highlight plays (early on), the rehab, the neck injury, and the fumblitis yesterday.  I am of the opinion that he is not a guy you can bank on.  He has a world of talent, but until his off field stuff is fully resolved, he’s not a number one type DB or punt returner.

So what’s to be done in Big D?  A new Defensive coordinator is one.  Yes, Wade Phillips took over play calling for the defense, but I think it detracted from the larger game management issues.  Jason Garrett is being allowed to talk to the Lion’s about their head coaching position, so a new offensive coordinator may be on the horizon as well.  Player personel wise, the Boys need upgrades at CB and at Safety, and maybe LB with Zach Thomas voiding his contract.  They need to get younger on the offensive line as well, as opponents just got to Romo far too often this year.  It would be nice to have a solid full back as well, someone to lead block for Barber/Jones/Choice, as well as be a screen option for Romo on passing downs.

Wade Phillips has one more year to producea positive result.  If the Cowboy’s don’t advance in the play offs next year, he will be out.  Who replaces him will be a subject of speculation all year long.

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What a great weekend to be a sports fan

What more could a sports fan ask for this past weekend?  well, I could have asked for the Cowboy’s to have won, but that’s just me.

Four of the top five NCAA Football teams got upset, with only previously #2 Oklahoma surviving.  Oh, and Navy beat #16 Wake Forest as well!  When is the USNA going to get some respect?  Sure Paul Johnson left to go to Georgia Tech, but this team is still very very good.  Not BCS worthy to be sure, but still…

Then there’s the Baseball races.  Wow.  The Mets collapsed again!  Guess it wasn’t just Willy Randolph eh?  Hope he had a beer and called Omar Minaya to say “HA!”  And it looks like we’re bout 2 innings away from another Ozzie Guillen tantrum in Chicago.  He has to be on the hot seat if the White Sox fail in their make up game against the Tigers.  Then there is the feel good story of the Tampa Bay Rays.  A payroll 1/5 that of the NY Yankees, and the Rays win the dvision, the Yanks get to play golf.  And the Twins.  Who would have expected the Twins to be looking at making the post season?  No one that’s who.  Even die hard Twin fans were writing this season off.  Oh, and Cubs fans, you still got a long way to go.  Not saying they won’t, but it is the Cubs.  And of course some “usual suspects” are back, LA Dodgers (aka the West Coast Red Sox), the Red Sox, Angels, and Phillies.  Oh and the Brewers are back for the first time since Cecil Cooper wore the uniform.

NFL weeken was interesting as well.  No unthinkable upsets like last week with the Patriots-Dolphins game, but still some upsets.  Kansas City over Denver?  Herm Edwards probably just saved his job there.  Brett Favre finally has a great day as a Jet, even if they were wearing the old NY Titans uniforms.  How Lane Kifin is surviving in Okland is beyond me.  It’s not that he’s a bad coach, but with Al Davis in charge, it’s more soap opera than NFL.  Json Garret in Dallas finally had a “bad” game as offensive coordinator.  Not enough touched for TO (though the Skins D had something to do with that), and no use of Felix Jones.  See what happens after the bye week.

The NHL preseason has begun as well.  Haven’t watched any games as yet, but I am looking forward to the new season.

Attention All NY Jets Fans

Just shut up.  You all are fast becoming as bad as Packer fans over Brett Favre.  Give it up already.  Yes, Favre will help your team.  Heck, you might even  snag a wild card in the AFC.  But you are not suddenly going to challenge for the AFC East title, or go to the Super Bowl.  The Jets are just not that good.  You still need a top notch defense, an offensive line, and a running game that will actually cause the other team’s defense to lay off rushing Favre every down.

The Jets may make 9-7 this year.  But 8-8 is more likely.  Favre has to learn the new system, learn the Jets “receivers,” and get comfortable with the O-Line (*snicker*).  It’s too much to ask from him.   Plus, he says he’ll only be with the Jets for 1 year (according to the Daily News).  Plus you guys had to release Chad Pennington, who while not a stand out QB, isn’t all that bad, provided he doesn’t have to throw over 15 yards.

Yes, it all sounds and looks good on paper.  But reality will set in.  The Jets just have too much to overcome on their own team, let alone in the division or the conference.  Enjoy the euphoria while it lasts.  It’ll all be gone by week 5.

Arrghh!! He did it!

No, I’m not talking politics here.  I’m talking about the NFL.  Specifically the Dallas Cowboys and the “deal in principle” with the Tennesee Titans for Pac-Man Jones.

Previously, when rumors of this first surfaced, I was dead set against it.  I thought it was a bad deal then.  No, a terrible deal.  Now with the announcement of a theoretical deal, where the ‘Boys send a 4th round pick to the Titans for Pac-Man, I think it’s still a terrible deal.  There is just so much that will go badly with this deal. 

First off, Pac-Man is still under NFL suspension.  He can’t play.  He can’t even sign the theoretical 4 year contract offer.  He’s banned from the league.  He’s supposed to apply for reinstatement this summer, but that is far from an assured thing.  I highly doubt that Roger Goodell (NFL commissioner), will find enough evidence that Pac-Man has been “keeping his nose clean” as much as had been promised.  Even with Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones, who wields a good deal of influence, on his side, my guess is that Pac-Man will not be reinstated for the start of the 2008-09 season.

Second, this guy is pure trouble.  Yes, he has lots of talent.  Yes, he can be a shut down corner.  But, he can’t be that if he’s in jail, or answering another warrant.  Then there are the people he associates with outside of football.  These are the same people who have consistently gotten him into trouble at night clubs, or other acrivities.  He has not repudiated them, nor significantly disassociated himself from them.  As such, if he comes to Big D, he’ll bring those same people to the team, if only indiectly.

No, Pac-man Jones is a dangerous gamble.  The potential upsides (shut down corner, stronger pass defense, easier load for the line backers), are out weighed by all the potential down sides (off field antics, legal woes, associating with violent offenders, bad team mate).  This is a bad gamble by Jerry and company.  I really hope this thing gets scuttled by the League in some fashion, be by not reinstating Pac-Man, or voiding the deal entirely as Pac-Man is still under suspension.  If not, this will prove to be more of a distraction, one that will hurt the teams chances of reaching, let alone winning the Super Bowl.

Just Say No Mr.Jones

Rumor is rampant that Dallas Cowboy’s owner and GM Jerry Jones is looking at possibly trading for troubled CB “Pac-Man” Jones (currently the property of the Tennesee Titans).  Please, please, Mr.Jones, don’t do it!

Yes, the ‘Boys could use a shut down corner.  Yes, Pac-man has a world of talent at the position.  But, he’s not worth it, even for a late round pick.  He’s too much trouble off the field, and the chances of him managing to stay active for an entire season, let alone into the play offs, are slim.  He’s proven himself to be a serious liability off the field, and for all his talent, the risk reward benefit is just not there.

Some people will say “what about Tank Johnson?”  To them I would say that the two situations are completely different.  Tank got busted for a questionable charge, and a non-violent one at that.  Even so, Tank owned up, did his time, followed the rules, and got reinstated.  Tank, unlike Pac-man, has walked the straight path since his arrest and conviction.  He worked hard to get back into the NFL, worked hard to get back into shape, and proved to be a worth while pick up for the Cowboys this past season.  Tank wasn’t a distraction to the team, doing what was expected of him, both on and off the field.

Pac-man on the other hand, just can’t get himself straightened out.  He goes and tells Commissioner Roger Goodell that he’s gotten control of his life, then goes out and gets busted.  He’s sleezed his way through his entire life.  He was trouble in college, which is why several teams passed on him in the draft, despite his talent.  Tennesee took a shot on him, and he rewarded him with all sorts of bad press, and a suspension. 

No, this deal, if it even happens, is a bad one.  Until Pac-man shows that he has gotten control of his life, he should not be allowed anywhere near an NFL roster. 

Football Football Football!

Well, we’re two weeks into the NFL season, and already there have been some surpises.

Break up the Lions!  I laughed heartily when John Kitna said that Detroit would win 10 games this year.  I may have to choke that laugh down now.  The Lion’s are 2-0, though they haven’t played anyone that impressive.  They beat a hapless Raiders, and a struggling Minnesota.  Though Adrian Peterson will be a star in the league.  The best star for Detroit has to be first round pick Calvin Johnson, who is having an outstanding start to his career.  We’ll see if Detroit is for real after they face Philly and Chicago.

Speaking of 2-0 suprises, what’s up with the Texans?  I’m sure Atlanta is seriously regretting trading away Matt Schaub.  Houston faces Indianapolis next week, so we’ll see how the Texans fare against an elite team.  Nice to see Mario Williams finally showing what he’s capable of.

It’s going to be a long season in Atlanta and Oakland and Minnesota.  This is not to mention the soap opera that is the NY Giants.  The Vikings and Giants will get better as the season goes on, provided they can avoid major injuries.  Oakland and Atlanta will take much, much longer. 

There are just as many 0-2 surpises as there are 2-0.  Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and San Diego are all in this category.  Philly lost last night to Washington of all teams.  KC has been beat on, and the Chargers just caren’t living up to expectations.  So much for Marvin Lewis being the defensive genius.  Giving up 51 points to the Browns, the Browns of all teams (!), is mind boggling.  Even worse, is that the Bengals scored 45, and lost. 

My Cowboys are now 2-0.  Still have some worries about the defense, but Romo and the offense look very solid.  The two pronged rushing attack of Julius Jones and Marion Barber should provide enough of a pressure release to allow Romo to hit Jason Whitten and Terrel Owens.  If the defense steps it up a notch, look for Big D to be back in the Super Bowl.

Here’s to hoping Brett Favre has a nice swan song season.  While the team is 2-0, game 1 was not what Green Bay is capable of.  Expect GB to be in the play offs, more so with such a weak division, even with the Lion’s unbelievable start. 

Pittsburgh is not yet for real.  So far they’ve played Cleveland and Buffalo, so haven’t been truly tested just yet.  Let;s see what they do against a tougher opponent.  The NY Jets suck.  That’s it.  Eric Mangini is not the super-coach he was made out to be last year.  This year is the proff to that.  Buffalo is just as bad.  Maybe if they had a real QB, they might be able to do something, but JP Losman is not that QB. 

 Forget spy-gate.  Bill Belichick is still the best coach in the NFL right now.  Sunday’s drubbing of the Chargers was ample proof of that.  Brady was Brady, and I think we should be checking for pods in Randy Moss’ basement. 

Still need to wait to see who will emerge in the NFC West.  Arizona is looking surprisingly good, as are the 49er’s.  St.Louis is bad, but could squeak out the division, and Seattle is looking pretty Jeckyll and Hyde, as Shaun Alexander is just not what he used to be.

In the NFC South, a sub-.500 team could win the division, though I suspect that Carolina will get its act together.  The disaster that is the New Orleans Saints is a bit of a shock.  For a team that was the darling of the NFL, and captured the imagination of the nation last year, and was the feel good story, they have fallen hard.  It’s partly defenses figuring out Sean Payton’s offense, and part of it is a lack of drive by the players.  They may rebound, but don’t expect mroe than a .500 season from them. 

Let’s see who I haven’t mentioned.  Well there is Miami, Jacksonville, Tennesee, and Chicago.  Miami is competing for the #1 pick with Oakland and the Jets.  Tennesee could be interesting.  They play Indianapolis tough, and Vince Young is an emerging star.  Jacksonville?  Too much instability on offense to really go anywhere this year.  Now the Bears are a tale of two teams.  The defense, which is perhaps the best in the NFL, and the offense which is perhaps one of the worst in the NFL.  The Bears will only go as far as their defense will carry them.  Rex Grossman is not for real, and will cost the Bears with turn overs.  Plus, there isn’t anyone for him to toss (he can’t throw) to, nor is there a running game that anyone except the Falcons need to worry about. 

Of course, we’re only two weeks in, and everything can change from week to week. 

American McCulture

No, this is not a rant about fast food.  It’s about how American culture has “degraded” some what in recent years.  We have a culture where we want instant gratification, in 30 seconds or less.  We emphasize flash and pomp over substance and patience.  It’s not just about our desire for fast food, microwavable products, home delivered pizzas or Chinese, or even about our obsessions with pop stars.  This “I want it now” attitude is so pervasive, that it has altered how we approach all our problems.

Call it the “magic bullet” attitude.  All anyone wants is a simple, easy to swallow solution that will magically cure all our ills.  Doesn’t matter what the problem is.  Over weight?  Why exercise or eat right when all you should have to do is take a single pill and *poof!* all those nasty pounds will just go away.  Don’t want to cook, or don’t have the time?  There are a billion options, from burger joints to pizza places to Chinese take away, or even the frozen food section at the local supermarket.  Convienience rules the day, never mind the long term, that’s just so in the future.

And that’s just it, it’s all about the now, with no mind to the consequences down the road.  This attitude has seeped into all aspects of American life.  We don’t think beyond the imediacy of the moment.  We reach an situation or “conclusion” that we like or want, one that is with in a very short time frame, and stop.  Take fast food.  We get the instant satisfaction, but don’t concern ourselves about the long term potential consequencs.  Take sports.  We are so hung up on sports stars and their stats, that often they feel compelled to seek “short cuts” like steroids to achieve the desires.  I’m sure Lyle Alzado would like to have a do over on that regard.

But again, it’s more than that.  It has become part and parcel of our politics and policy debate.  Look at the antiwar movement.  The troops out now attitude is all well and wondeful.  So, let’s say we pull out.  Then what?  What happens to the people of Iraq?  What happens to their neighbors?  What will tha do to the stability and security of the region as a whole?  To some, that is of no matter, it’s “over there,” “out of sight, out of mind.”  They only want the immediate satisfaction of pulling our troops out, damn the consequences.

The Immigration debate is the same way, and on both sides.  Neither side is looking much beyond 2008 and the White House run.  There is little to no concern about what the impact of any shift in policy would be.  Those who advocate a free walk for illegals fail to see that this will only encourage a back lash, not only against them and any illegals that get “outed,” but against those who are here legally, and don’t deserve to be penalized for following the rules.  They end up only encouraging attitudes that will serve to ruin the fabric of the nation.  Those who demand an overly harsh stance on the illegals also fail to see beyond the immediacy of the situation.  As I said in a previous post, deporting some 12million plus illegals is a nonstarter, it isn’t going to happen.  The impact, not only on the courts and enforcement agencies, but on how the USA is percieved around the world.

People here in the States have a bad attitude.  If they can’t have it now, they don’t want it.  And if we can get someone else to do it for us, all the better.  As I referenced above, it’s like going to McDonald’s.  You pull up, place your order, and in less than 5 minutes, you’re on your way.  No real planning involved.  No concern for what the potentialities of the action could cause.  It’s one reason why so many people get addicted to drugs.

And this attitude has become institutionalized.  Look at the fight former players are having with the NFL, or what older baseball players had to fight for (and still do).  Look at how we handle Social Security (which has always been behind from day 1), or how we approach any sort of welfare program.  It’s slap dash band aid type fixes that a certain Dutch boy would be ashamed of.

We need a fundamental change in how we approach things.  This patch and move on just isn’t working, and never will.  What we need to do is start looking at things in more than a six month block.  For those that haven’t heard, Americans usually only think in a six month block, three months ahead, three months behind.  This severely limits our perceptions, and ability to plan strategically.  And it’s why those who can are labeled either visionaries or scoundrels. 

If we start thinking in truly long term parameters, we can radically change our approaches to nearly everything.  We need to think in more historical terms, in blocks of 10 to 20 years.  That alone will provide a better basis for policy planning, and even practical applications.  Once we achieve this, we alter the basic debate structure on nearly all things, from public policy to personal planning.  It will also change how we percieve our icons.  We will stop being so obsessed with people like Paris Hilton, and concentrate on those who have staying power, and a lasting impact.

OK, I’ll stop dreaming now, as this will not change…*sigh*