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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Broadyway Brett Not Ready for Prime Time...

Well greetings and salutations my good people. There were some big games this weekend, so instead of boring you with my lame attempts at humor and banter, I'll just get right down to brass tacks. Check it out..


Patriots Update
Last Week: New England Patriots 19 New York Jets 10
Overall: 2-0

Naturally, whether the Pats won or lost on Sunday, the story of the game was going to be the performance of Patriots QB Matt Cassel. A lot had been made of him having not started a game since he was poppin' zits and taking driver's ed, and a whole nation full of football fans waited with baited breath to see if he would single-handedly doom the Pats entire season. Well he didn't doom the Pats, and not to take anything away from his performance, but this man's opinion is that Mangini and the Jets let the inexperienced signal caller off the hook. They didn't bring a lot of pressure, they didn't use any extravagant schemes, and on offense, they didn't do anything to put him in a position where he truly needed to put up some points. Granted the Patriots D was very good, and I'll get to that in a minute, but as I watched the game it just boggled my mind that the Jets were content to let Cassel sit back and manage the game in a very Brady circa 2001 type fashion...

But enough about the failings of the Jets, let's talk about the surprising performance by the entire Patriots team. On special teams, Stephen Gostkowski came through, not only nailing all 4 of his FG tries, but also kicking 5 kickoffs through the endzone, and never allowing the Jets to get past the 20 on any of his 6 kickoffs. It would also be remiss for me not to mention Chris Hanson, who took a break from catching petafiles and/or smoking buds at "the condo" and delivered some clutch punts to help the Pats win the all important battle of field position. But those two guys aside, and keeping in mind that I felt Cassel's performance was merely adequate, the real difference makers in this one were LaMont Jordan and the Patriot defense...

Jordan was easily the Pats most effective rusher. He had 11 carries for 62 yards and provided the only pop in a running attack that saw Maroney and Morris muster just 16 yards on 16 carries. I said when he was added to the roster that he was almost a hybrid between Morris and Faulk, and his aggressive running style was on full display against his old team. He's fast, he's strong, and he hits holes hard. The only question now, is will he get enough carries to really make a difference. My guess is it will still be very much a running back by committee situation, but if Jordan sees an increased role, I think it would make the offense all that more dangerous. Not to mention help take even more pressure of Matt Cassel..

On defense, the players that really stood out to me were Richard Seymour, Brendan Merriweather, Ellis Hobbs and Jerod Mayo. While I still think a lot of the Pats defensive success was based on the Jets vanilla approach, these guys in particular stood out as difference makers that helped hold the Jetropolitans to just 1 touchdown and 10 total points. Merriweather seemed to debunk the myth that he has stone hands with his nice pick on Favre. Hobbs shut down Coles, even though Favre hardly ever looks his way. Mayo was arguably the surest tackler New England had on the field. And "Big Sey" finally did some damage the fans could recognize, picking up his first sack of the season not to mention consistently ending up in the New York backfield...

All in all, the defensive performance was a reminder to guys like me, who picked the Jets, that even though Brady may be down, this defense is still elite enough to carry this team to a lot of the places they had planned on going. Will it be enough to bring them to another Super Bowl appearance? I still say no. But with Cassell facing Miami, San Fran and a bye week over the next 3, he'll have plenty of time to learn on the job as the Pats head into their real meaningful games, and start to become the team they will ultimately be...


Tackle Box
-What a bizarre game between the Chargers and Broncos. Sure the performances turned in by Jay Cutler (350 yards + 4 TDs), Brandon Marshall (18 grabs for 166 yards) and Darren Sproles (317 all purpose yards) were mighty impressive, but all anyone is going to want to talk about is the two controversial calls that decided the game...

First up, was the "incomplete pass" that was called by referee Ed Hochuli. Anyone watching the game could tell it was a fumble. Cutler himself acted after the play as if it were a fumble. And after the game, even Hochuli himself admitted he got the call wrong. The real problem? Not the call on the field, but the rule itself. It says that when a play is reviewed, there needs to be indisputable evidence to reverse the call that was made on the field. There in lies the issue. If such a bogus call is made on the field, like in this case when the ball was blown dead, there's no way a replay can take that fact away. Solution? Well, for starters, don't blow your whistle. Remember how when replay came into effect all of a sudden every loose ball was a fumble? Sure at first it seemed a little silly, but it's better than the alternative of the whistle blowing and the play being impossible to overturn. In this instance, despite the fact that replay would clearly show the play as a fumble, an inadvertent whistle spelled the end of the play, and in essence, the end of the game for the San Diego Chargers...

Simply put, in a world where replay exists, whistles should not. And thanks to this latest officiating blunder, you gotta think we're well on our way to living in that very place...

The 2nd call, was the decision by Mike Shanahan to go for 2 at the end of the game with his team only trailing by 1. It was only the 4th time since the 2 point conversion was introduced in 1994 that a team pulled such a feat with 2 minutes or less to go in the game, and I doubt anyone else will be trying it in the near future. Was it because his team had blown a huge lead? OR, by some act of God, was he actually trying to give San Diego a chance because he thought they got robbed? I highly doubt it was the latter, but whatever the reason, the guy's got balls the size of watermelons. In a division game, at home, he took a huge gamble and may have actually given his team a decisive win in what could turn out to be a nip and tuck battle for the AFC Western division title...

-An equally impressive performance by a young QB this week was that of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. I was in the minority when the season began, thinking that the young Packers wouldn't miss a beat with him at the helm, and with each passing week I'm looking brighter and brighter. The kid was a ton of weapons at his disposal, and as long as he can keep his turnovers to a bare minimum, this offense is gonna be tough to beat. And imagine this, with a power running game in place with Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson, and a fierce passing attack led by James Jones, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, the only thing this team is lacking is a Kevin Faulk type do-it-all back. If they could possibly add a guy like that to the mix, or find a guy like that hidden somewhere on their roster, then we could be looking at yet another dangerous offense in the NFC. Who'd a thunk it?...

With two weeks in the books, here are just a few quick notes on some teams that have surprised me...both the good and the bad...

Jacksonville Jaguars: How important is it to have a good offensive line? Just ask Jack Del Rio, Fred Taylor, David Garrard and Maurice Jones Drew. Through 2 games, the Jags have managed just 3 yards per rush and allowed a mind boggling 9 sacks. Yeah, I'd say that's a pretty sure fire way to guarantee you start the season 0-2...

Buffalo Bills: We all knew the defense would be solid and the special team immaculate, but it's the Buffalo offense that has really impressed through the first two weeks of the season. If Marshawn Lynch can stay out of night clubs, and Trent Edwards can keep completing passes at a 71% clip, then this team's going to be even more dangerous than the possible playoff threat I had them pegged to be when the season began...

Carolina Panthers: 2-0? Really? Well just like with the Jags, you can almost single-handedly thank the offensive line. Jack Delhomme has only been sacked 4 times, and DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart have carried the bean 53 times for a very impressive 247 yards. That's 4.6 yards per carry for those of you that are mathematically impaired, but more importantly it's a sure fire way to make sure you have a chance to win a lot of games. I'd be a little weary that their defense isn't causing any turnovers (0 INTs), but when your offense has only given the ball away twice in two games, it's not the worst problem in the world to have...

Indianapolis Colts: I'm not sure what I would have to say today had the Vikings held on and beat the Colts, but Indy fans have got to be scratching their heads. I'm still gonna play the "chemistry" card when it comes to Peyton and the Indy offense, but if they can't get some of those guys along their o-line back on the field (Ugoh, Saturday) then this alleged short term problem could quickly turn into a season altering situation...

Cleveland Browns: I know it's early, but if you're Romeo Crennel you have to think your job's in jeopardy right now, don't you? Their schedule has been brutal, with opening games against Dallas and Pittsburgh, but if this Cleveland team was even half as good as many of us thought, they should have at least gone 1-1. I mean, come on. You drop your first two home games to open the season, and you're not the Miami Dolphins, then you have to expect that people are gonna be pissed. Oh, and 6 drops in 2 games by Braylon Edwards isn't exactly doing the Cleveland offense any favors...

Arizona Cardinals: Still a gimmick team, and I won't be impressed until they beat somebody defense. Call me cynical, but that's just the way I see it. Besides, you're kidding yourself if you say you follow this squad for any reason other than fantasy football anyway...

I was able to clean up my act this week, and actually got some picks right. And seeing as I did so well on my "picks of the week", I've decided to chronicle those picks right along with the rest of my predictions. As for my college picks, well let's just say I've been doing as well with those as I did with actual college...


NFL Picks
Last Week:
9-6-0

My Top Picks: 5-1-0

Overall: 16-15-0 (.516)

NCAA Top 25 Picks
Last Week: 8-8-1

Overall: 33-23-2 (.586)

So now that we got that football biz out of the way, it's time for a little slice of the National past time. After all, the Sox are back in 1st, and with Tom Brady down, they actually might be worth watching!...

Red Sox Update
Overall: 89-61, 1st place tie (.002 % behind Tampa)

Another week, and another series with the Rays. This one got off in stellar fashion last night, as the Sox used 6 homers to top Kazmir at the Trop. The win gives the Sox their first W at Tropicana Field all season, shows the upstart Rays they aren't scared of their ace, and most importantly, puts them in a virtual tie for 1st. These are all good things. After all, winning the division means they avoid the Angels on the road in the 1st round, I think we can all agree that's the prime objective at this point...

I'll have more on Friday with my NFL picks, but seeing as we're right in the middle of this series with Tampa, and so much is likely to change in the next few days, I consider it a little counter productive to even try and evaluate the situation as it is right now...


News and Notes
-Love the game, but hate the business. A saying that could be used by almost any fan for any sport, but that in this case I use to describe Los Angeles Angels closer Fransisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. The guy isn't a week removed from setting the single season saves record (58), and the campaign has already begun to help bring down his price in free agency. I've started hearing shit like "his stuff isn't as good as it was", or "this is just a result of all the close games the Angels play", and it all just makes me sick. Love him til it's time to pay 'em, huh? It's a pretty gross business. And while rare, it's times like these that I actually hope a guy like this can go out and score himself a big pay day...

-Hate the game, but mock the douchebags that participate in it. In this case, I'm obviously talking about Lance Armostrong, Roid Landis, and the Tour de France. Simply put, they're both tools, and they're both coming back for the '09 Tour. One was busted for drugs, and one used drugs to beat cancer, and then beat down a bunch of unsuspecting Eurotrash. So why do I even bother keep bringing this mess up? Well I think it's pretty obvious. I get to use the term "Roid Landis" and Eurotrash, and I get to take subtle cheap shots at Lance and how I still believe to this day that the guy juiced himself up to win the 20 Tour's he's captured in the last decade or so. Hey, I'm a hater, what can I say...

-Carlos Zambrano threw the 1st no hitter at a neutral site since 1900, and it's not sitting all that well with Houston Astro's manager, Cecil Cooper. The manager was less than pleased with the fact that his Stros, displaced by Hurricane Ike, had to play what was supposed to be a home game in Milwaukee, a mere 45 minutes from Chicago. I say Cecil should keep his yap shut and focus on 2 main points. 1) No matter where you're team was gonna have to play, I don't think managing one hit was too much to ask. And 2) The Astros currently sit at 80-69, 2 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. And the Brewers just fired their manager, Ned Yost, right in the middle of a Wild Card run. So Cecil, thank your lucky stars you have a job, and more importantly, a job in a market that forgets you exist once football season has started...

-So I turn on the simulcast TV version of Mike and Mike in the Morning on Monday, in hopes of catching some info on the Monday Night Eagles/Cowboys game. Instead, I find Mike Greenberg talking about his button-up shirt, and calling himself the Kelly Ripa of sports talk radio. Now, I happen to think Kelly Ripa is the hottest MILF this side of Rachel Hunter, but I couldn't agree more with his statement. Much like Kelly, he's put on the air simply because he appeals to the masses. But unlike Kelly, his "fans" actually claim to be looking for insightful comments, but seem to settle for his social commentary on hair gel and reality TV. To be honest, what really bothers me is the fact that I think the guy is an embarrassment, yet he's on the top of a mountain that I hope one day I too will find myself perched. And while when that time comes I also hope I can appeal to a wide audience including housewives and teenie boppers, I only pray that I'll be able to do it without sacrificing every bit of credibility I have. And without alienating the same fans that helped catapult me to the top. And hey, if I get a nice piece of Kelly Ripa ass out of the deal, that wouldn't be the end of the world either...

Fantasy Update
Last Week: The Express 80 Hanyur's HamFighters 57
Overall: 1-1-0, 8th place

Next Week vs Heinous Montegna (1-1-0)

-Well if you're gonna live by the sword, then you're gonna die by the sword. You can't win 'em all. Sometimes your the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug. Whatever crappy analogy you want to use, you can apply it to my team this week. I built this machine to score a bunch of touchdowns, but with a lot of shitty match ups on the docket in week 2, it was just never meant to be. Oh, well. The good news is I've started working the trading block, and would have a few blockbuster's in the works by weeks end. Trading has always been my forte when it comes to fantasy sports, and I've always been of the impression that a team drafted "as-is", is never gonna be good enough to take down a title. Then again, I've always been better at robbing people through trades than I have been at drafting...


So with a stretch and a yawn, I'm done for the week. I hope you all enjoed what you read, as I took a lot of time out of my new beard itching schedule in order to make this happen. Sure it may not be full and lustrous quite yet, but it's mine goddamit, so repsect my sacrifices...Eh, on second thought, I'm probably gonna go shave right now anyway...

OK, just one more itch...

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