Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Sports Memories of the Last Decade (2000-2009)

10. Yankees/Angels ALCS Game 2- October 17, 2009

I notice that a lot of these games happened around my birthday (10/14). This one is on the list simply because of what I was doing while the game was going down. I had just walked into the club and was drinking a little when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with the Yankees down 3-2, and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Based on what had transpired this past season with Rodriguez and Fuentes’ propensity to implosion, I thought something big was coming. When Rodriguez hit the ball, and it proceeded to barely make it over Bobby Abreu’s glove, the place went CRAZY. Then immediately after the “walk off error” by Maicer Izturis, the DJ proceeded to play a mix of Jay-Z’s “Empire State Of Mind” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”. That is one of the two times I actually appreciated the song “Empire State of Mind”. The other was, you guessed it, the 2009 World Series ticker tape parade/rally. This was one of those nights, and the Rodriguez homer triggered it.

9. Mike Piazza’s Game winning HR against Braves- September 21, 2001

I'm not a Mets fan, but the feeling I had when Piazza hit this HR isn't matched by many in my years of watching sports. While I understand sometimes the overemphasis of the importance of sports, this game was a getaway of sorts. With all the stuff going on, the tragedy and such the game was a nice way to get away from it all. It was ten days later but the lingering effects were still there, and this was the first professional sports game in New York since the tragedy.

In a city in need of an emotional lift of any kind, Piazza stepped up to the plate with his team down 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning with a man on base. He proceeded to homer to center field, and sent chills down my spine and lifted a city in turmoil. That home run was about more than baseball. It was like something straight out of a movie and it almost felt as if a spirit was watching over the Mets that night as they gave the city a well needed jolt.

8. Jets/Dolphins, Monday Night Miracle- October 10,2000

For once, my undying loyalty to the Jets paid off. For the most part, unless Kliff Kingsbury is playing QB, I stick around until the game is over. While I was a young pup at this time, that was still my modus operandi. At 30-7, all I can think was that the game over, and then the unthinkable happened. The Jets were on the giving end of a heartbreaking, gut wrenching defeat. I’ll never forget the look on Jumbo Elliott’s face as he looked up to the Jumbotron after catching the game tying touchdown pass. Honestly, the only reason this one is so far down the list is because I wasn’t old enough at the time to truly recognize the magnitude of the comeback and appreciate it for what it was.

7.Jets/Packers, Win and you’re in regular season finale- December 29, 2002

The game itself was relatively uneventful as the Jets blew the doors off Brett Favre and the Packers, 42-17. The events before, and during the game made the game and the day special for Jets fans. The Jets needed a win and some assistance from the hated Patriots to make the postseason.

They needed the Patriots to beat the then division leader Dolphins, and it didn't look good when the Patriots trailed 21-10 with five minutes left to play. Then the tables turned in unbelievable fashion as the Dolphins folded like a cheap tent. They let the Patriots score 11 unanswered in the last 4 minutes, and proceeded to lose in Overtime. I remember seeing a 'Game Break' on Fox detailing the loss, and being excited. For once as a Jets fan, I had no doubts they were going to win, and they did exactly that setting off a three and a half hour long party in the Meadowlands

6. Yankees/Red Sox- July 1, 2004

I know most remember the game for Jeter diving in the stands and bloodying his face, but the game itself was an incredible game. On a side note, a forgotten nugget in that game is that Nomar Garciaparra was the only active player on EITHER SIDE not to play in the game, and that basically hastened his exit from Boston. In the game itself, it was a hotly contested game, and I'll personally never forget the image of Ruben Sierra huffing and puffing while looking like he was about to collapse, on his way to home plate on the game tying RBI triple on Miguel Cairo. Then John Flaherty, the lightest hitter on the team, came through with the GW RBI 'double' to win it. This was yet another awesome game in the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry.

5. Jets/Chargers AFC Divisional Playoff- January 8, 2004

This game honestly should not even be on this list. Had it not been for Eric Barton going Mortal Kombat on Drew Brees head needlessly and unnecessarily, this game wouldn't be here. That is part of the Jets charm though since in the rare instances they do win, it is never painless. Up 17-10, on a 4th and goal inside the ten, the Jets had the victory before Eric Barton decided to deliver an elbow to Brees’ head, which gave the Chargers new life and they proceeded to force OT. The Jets then got a missed FG from Nate ‘Baby Face’ Kaeding, and proceeded to drive down for the winning FG. As usual with the Jets, after the game is over I felt like I was on the field with them for 60 minutes.

4. Yankees World Series run/subsequent parade- November 2009

Honestly, most of the games were fairly nondescript (save for Game Two of the ALDS, Game Two of the ALCS, Game Four of the WS), but just being old enough to actually appreciate the title, and being there among literally a sea of Yankee fans was an experience I’ll never forget and hope to replicate in the near future.

3. Yankees/D'Backs 2001 World Series Games Four and Five- October 31- November 2, 2001

I’m telling you, the Yankees always make things interesting. This series came on the heels of 9/11, and while the Yankees were outclassed in pretty much every way imaginable the entire series it seemed like it was destined for them to win the series. Regardless, games Four and Five were all kinds of drama. Tino Martinez hitting a two out game tying HR in Game 4, and Scott Brosius hitting a game tying two out, two run HR in Game 5 marked the loudest I’ve ever heard Yankee Stadium. I felt the noise all the way from the Northeast Bronx. Both those home runs gave me the chills, and you had Game Four ending with Derek Jeter hitting a walkoff home run at the very beginning of November. That was an incredible 2 nights of baseball.

2. Giants/Patriots SB XLII- February 3, 2008

As everyone and their mother knows, I loathe the Patriots. I’m also a Giants supporter. I’m a New York kid, so I support all the locals besides the Mets. That being said, this entry is more about the hated Patriots losing their bid for perfection than anything else.

I remember the week before the game, ESPN with ‘fantasy matchups’ of the Patriots vs teams like the 1985 Bears, and had the Patriots “winning”. That kind of stuff just made me say “Can they win the damn game first before we crown them? Good grief,” Lo and behold, The Giants defense put Tom Brady on his back countless times, and Eli Manning drove the troops down the field, in a drive that will go down in football lore, to win the game. And the David Tyree play was probably the most shocking play I have ever seen in my life, considering this guy was cut a year later, and that year had 4 catches. It was great to see someone finally one up Tom Brady, and end the Patriots run for perfection. Thank you Eli Manning. I wonder how Mercury Morris felt?

1. Yankees/Sox Game 7 2003 ALCS- October 16, 2003

This is probably the most heart pumping, exciting baseball game I’ve ever watched. As much as I get tired of the Yankee and Sox centric coverage, I definitely miss the Yankees- Sox ALCS’. They featured fights, great games, great players, and just epic wars. This game itself was epic. The Yankees fell behind 4-0 early, then got two Jason Giambi home runs.

They were trailing 5-2 going into the eighth inning, where Derek Jeter, like he has so many times, got the rally started with a double to right field. Bernie singled him home , Matsui then doubled, setting up a matchup between Jorge Posada and Pedro Martinez, who had a confrontation earlier in the series where Martinez pointed towards his own head as if to say that is where he’d hit Posada. Posada then served a blooper into no man’s land to tie the game and I swear I felt my TV shake. After three innings of impeccable scoreless relief from Mariano Rivera, Aaron Boone stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning. He took one mighty swing at one of Tim Wakefield’s knuckleballs, sent Yankee Stadium into hysteria, sent me into my pillow screaming in joy, and sent the Yankees to the World Series.

Honorable mentions-

Jets release Chad Pennington
Jason Kidd traded to Nets- Summer 2001
Jets blow out the Colts 41-0 in 2002 Wildcard Round
LeBron James goes off for the last 25 Cavalier points in Game 5 of ECF vs Detroit
Nets make the finals in 2002
Nets make the finals in 2003
Yankees come back from 0-2 down against Athletics
Jason Giambi's walk off Grand Slam against Minnesota in the rain in 2001

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thoughts on NFL Week 16

-While I think the 'Indy benching scandal' is being overblown, considering what the Colts have to play for at this point, I didn't agree with how they handled the situation. I thought, at 15-10, Caldwell should have given the offense a shot to go up two scores. Then once you get up two scores, bench your starters and such, or just have them play three quarters. I think if you play the starters for three quarters each of the last two games, that keeps them 'fresh' enough and in good enough 'game shape' for the postseason. That being said, all the folks who are complaining and criticizing now, would be the same ones who would be complaining and criticizing had an important player went down with a significant injury. Health>being undefeated.

-On a related note, thank you to the Indianapolis Colts and Jim Caldwell for benching Peyton Manning. I'll be at the game next week (my first, and the last at the Meadowlands), and now it is actually for something. That was the best Christmas present I got.

-The Cincinnati Bengals are the Shrek of football. Hopefully they don't look like Snow White this week.

-Why are the Ravens such an undisciplined football team? I swear, every time I look up they are being flagged, but most of all some of them are either boneheaded, completely obvious or both. On the TD return on the INT by Dominique Foxworth, Terrell Suggs committed a block in the back that had absolutely no impact on the play. Suggs could have literally lied on the field making pretend snow angels, and Foxworth would have scored, so why the penalty that costs your team 6 pts? They have always been a chatty bunch, full of talk and bravado, but a dumb one as well.

-Who the hell was that playing QB for the Rams this past week? I consider myself an avid football fan, and I have never once heard of the guy in my life.

-The Giants are an absolute embarrassment. It's bad enough laying an egg like that, making Matt Moore look like an All-Pro, and getting steamrolled in every sense of the word, but it was also the last game in the Meadowlands for the Giants. This is how they say farewell to the Stadium? What a joke. I have no idea what happened to that defense but I think it's safe to say, from a football sense, that the Giants and Steve Spagnuolo both miss each other dearly.

-All the Tony Romo bashing that I've heard repeatedly over the course of the years, does it stop? Or is it now, that he played an excellent December, he needs to win in the postseason? Whatever it is, he deserves a ton of credit, as he played very well in December which I was led to believe was an utter and complete impossibility of apocalyptic, earth shattering type of proportions.

-The New England Patriots win this week helped the Jets. So, I'll throw them a thank you. Thanks New England. On a related note, to the Jaguars, you might want to get a hand on that guy named Moss. I've heard he's alright.

-That is the Jay Cutler I've come to know and love. He played an excellent game, though the Vikings defense is struggling. Too bad it's too little, too late. Hopefully he can build on that for next season.

- San Diego will represent the AFC in the Superbowl. As much as I don't trust them, the only team in the AFC I see getting in their way is Indianapolis, and I think the Colts D is soft like tissue paper.

-I swear, the Texans and 8-8 go together like peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde, like chocolate cake and ice cream. And next year all the prognosticators again will tell me how it will be the year they will breakout. Now it very well may be, but it reeks of throwing stuff at a wall and hoping it sticks. Every single year, Houston is supposed to breakout and it never happens.

-Watching Jay Cutler and Brett Favre, as much as I can't stand Favre, go tit for tat was great. I absolutely enjoy great QB play, and that game had it all in that regard.

-Do the Packers still need to have Brett Favre and were idiotic for letting him go? Or will the media, and others FINALLY let that go and admit that Aaron Rodgers is the BUSINESS?

-The Redskins, per the usual, are a hot mess.

-I'm curious to see how this Eagles-Cowboys game plays out next week. Both teams are playing well, and the Eagles are now playing for a first round bye. Who would've thought that was possible about, oh, 2 weeks ago? Boy, can things change quickly.

-On his last throw of the Steeler/Ravens game, what in the name of everything that is holy and sacred was Ben Roethlisberger doing?

-The Denver Broncos started out 6-0, and have gone 2-7 ever since. But wait, I thought Kyle Orton was this winner? Yet, their PPG took a dip, and Eddie Royal (at this point, he almost warrants a 'Who?', even though I was led to believe that he was simply unbelievably awesome and a top flight WR) has completely disappeared. At least the ridiculous Orton nonsense, making him out to be something he is not (anything more than average, and an MVP candidate) has died like a bug on a windshield.

-Happy Holidays to all those who read.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Video entry: Thoughts on Allen Iverson's pending retirement


Monday, October 12, 2009

Thoughts on Week 5 of the NFL season

-I don't think this story is getting enough play, but the Bengals winning that game, with the death of Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife hanging over their heads was a nice story. The fact that they won the game with Zimmer choosing to be there with them on game day was nice, and giving Zimmer the game ball (along with the speech that came with it) was very touching. It was all around great win for Cincinnati, and I'm happy they won that game in light of what was going on with Zimmer.

-I don't know what's worse, the fact that Derek Anderson completed two passes in a professional football game, or the fact that the Buffalo Bills lost to a team who completed two passes the entire game.

-The Patriots look mortal these days. Tom Brady just doesn't look good to this point, as he probably needs to overcome the mental block of the knee surgery. That pass he missed to Wes Welker in the 4th quarter was absolutely crucial, and he also missed a TD from about 35 yards out to Randy Moss in the first half.

-What about the Broncos? 5-0. Who saw that coming? Their defense is playing lights out, and Orton played a great game this past week. They're going well, and they're getting all the breaks as well. There was one play where the ball was deflected 3 times by Patriot players only to land in the waiting arms of Jabar Gaffney. Those are the kind of breaks you get when you are going well.

-I think all the talk of Josh McDaniels celebration being exaggerated is somewhat unnecessary, but I'll admit that the celebration was a bit much. Take a second though to consider the magnitude of the game for him personally, and for his team, and all he has been through as the coach, I can see why he celebrated like he did. It was a big game, and his team is 5-0, good for him. It's not often you see have a moment like that between the fans and the coach. I thought it was refreshing.

-How about them Cowboys? I know they needed a win, but the fact that this game was so important from a team temperament standpoint, and they came out and played a very average game full of mistakes speaks volumes about them. I know a 'W' is a 'W', but it would have been a lot more encouraging if they had come out and whip the Chiefs but they did not. They left them in the game, and the Chiefs just were not good enough to take it.

-How about Miles Austin? 250 yards, and 2 TDs in his first career start. What a game for him, and what bad tackling on KC's part. It's one thing to be slippery and break a lot of tackles, but watching that game you essentially saw the same play several times. The Chiefs might want to practice tackling a bit harder in practice this week.

-The only game on locally on Sunday early was New York-Oakland. Imagine my dismay, as the Giants smashed Oakland into a fine dust. Can you say, mismatch? When asked about the game this week, Richard Seymour said something to the tune of 'The weather is nice'. Indeed it is Richard, indeed it is.

-The clock is ticking on Jim Zorn. Tick, tock. I don't agree that he should be on the chopping blocks but someone has to be held accountable, and Zorn is probably the first guy on that line.

-How about Jeremy Maclin in his first career start going for 142 yards and 2 TDs. I liked that guy in the draft and McNabb looked for him early and often Sunday, including an absolute rope on the first TD. Props to McNabb on a good game, coming back from the injury, and props to Maclin making the most of his first career start.

-Can the St. Louis Rams be removed from the NFL? The word to describe their startling ineptitude hasn't been created yet.

-Dre Bly's "display" after catching an INT on Sunday was absolute comedy. Catching the interception then doing the "Deion" when he hadn't even reached midfield, then proceeding to get stripped, all the while being down 25 points, was absolutely hysterical. I'm surprised Singletary didn't come on the field and tackle him.

- Andre Johnson is simply a monster. That TD catch to tie the game at 21 against AZ was ridiculous. In my opinion, he is the best wide receiver the NFL has to offer.

-Peyton Manning might be playing the best football of his life, and that is saying a LOT.

-While the Jets did lose, the performance of Braylon Edwards was very encouraging. He brings a dynamic at the WR position that I have never seen in my years of following the team. Ultimately, that and Mark Sanchez' resilience were the only things to be encouraged about on this night. The defense' performance was embarrassing, and I thought the coaches did a bad job as well. Hopefully it was just a bump in the road for the defense, although I was and still am worried about the lack of a ace pass rusher. Schemes and exotic blitz schemes can only account for so much

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughts on Week 4 of the NFL Regular season

-Brett Favre looked like vintage Brett on MNF. As much as I have 'Favre fatigue' and as much as I think Rodgers is better overall and was better Monday night, Favre still played an excellent football game. The Packers took Adrian Peterson out of the game and forced Favre to beat them and he obliged. The TD pass he threw to Sidney Rice in the second quarter was a Hall of Fame throw.

- I thought, especially given the circumstances, that Aaron Rodgers performance was absolutely magnificent. Yes, I know he threw an INT, and had a costly fumble, but the Vikings front four was killing the offensive line (and subsequently Rodgers), all night, and he still managed to light up the place. That kid is a really good QB.

-Steve Smith (the NYG version), is absolutely putting on a clinic week in and week out. The guy just knows how to get open. He works all of the field, and has excellent hands. Smith and Eli Manning have incredible chemistry, and it shows in the numbers, and how often Manning looks to him on 'big' downs.

-Mark Sanchez finally played like a rookie and it cost the Jets big time. I thought it was especially evident on the fumble in the endzone when he should have just thrown it in the first row. Although, considering the fact that he threw a INT that just went for a TD, it would be nice to know why the Jets are even throwing inside their own 2 anyway.

- The Jets defense is absolutely for real, and having Calvin Pace back just makes them that much better.

-I really, REALLY do not like Brian Schotteinheimer. I'll leave it at that, before I break the computer and am unable to finish this entry.

-Can we just call the Rams 'The Ringling Brothers'? Good lord, they are bad. Steve Spagnoulo, I hope you are enjoying the fatter paychecks because that is all there is to enjoy in St Louis at the moment.

- Trent Edwards is the worst QB in the NFL not named JaMarcus Russell.

-To put JaMarcus Russell's ineptitude in perspective, Shaquille O'neal's free throw percentage is higher than JaMarcus's completion percentage. Enough said.

-Jay Cutler is the man. As damn near everyone knows, he's my favorite active NFL player. He makes the players around him better, and that TD run was awesome. He really put his body on the line, and won.

-To this point, I think Johnny Knox has made a good case for himself as the Rookie of the Year.

- Peyton Manning is a machine. The man simply is not real. 70% completions and 9 TDs in four games thus far this season. Are you kidding me? Best QB in the league, and this year's MVP to this point. I know I gush about him every week, but I do it because I think football fans take him for granted. '300 yards, ho hum'. He's ridiculous.

-New England is like the character in the horror movie that just won't die. I picked against them the last two weeks, and they've shut me right up. Oh by the way, next time how about catching the ball, Mark Clayton?

-Tennessee is awful. Is it a combination of things, or did Haynesworth make that big a difference? I personally think it's a combination of both, as they haven't played well and haven't been able to catch a break either. Soon it's going to be Vince Young time in Nashville, and given how bad he is, there might be a lot of bottles of 'Tums' purchased in Tennessee.

-Denver is 4-0. I never thought I'd see that. The Denver defense is playing great, and McDaniels has done a great job of changing the "laid back" culture up there. Though, the amount of props Kyle Orton is getting is actually nauseating. He stinks. He has contributed next to nothing to the 4-0 start. He's bad, and him being on a winning team (a classic media misconception) doesn't make him any more or less, bad.

-That play by Brandon Marshall to win the game Sunday was excellent. It was a poorly thrown ball, Marshall 'Mossed' Terrence Newman and came down with the ball, then proceeded to run up his 'YAC' total, owning half the Dallas defense en route to the endzone. Good for him.

-San Diego is the league's paper champion every year. I think the first half of the game Sunday night was a 30 minute snap shot as to why. That team is poorly coached and poorly prepared every single week. If not for Philip Rivers, god knows where that team would be. They have all the talent you need, but their coaching staff is absolutely dreadful.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thoughts on Week 3 of the NFL season

- I have to give up to Old Man River aka Brett Favre. That was a hell of a drive he led culminating in a hell of a pass to win the game. I don't think the catch gets nearly as much credit as it deserves, but the throw was pretty much in the only spot Favre could have put it to have a chance for a completion. That was a great play by Favre.

- San Francisco is going to be a tough out this year. They aren't the most talented team, but they play a tough, disciplined brand of football, and Singletary has them playing a tough brand of football. I think the 9ers will find themselves in the postseason this year.

-Peyton Manning is just simply the best, period. Besides the fact that he is just damn great, he is definitely fun to watch. I definitely get a kick out of him getting to the line with 20 on the clock, then proceeding to gesture and jump up and down and around and around. He's the best QB I've ever had a chance to see play.

-It was good to see Jay Cutler come up big again for the Bears in the waning moments of the game against Seattle. I think the guy is growing as a QB. And also much props to Devin Hester, who has silenced the critics (including myself) to this point with solid play to this point. And on a somewhat related note, Devin Hester has more yards than both Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal combined. Interesting stuff.

-The topic of 'Troy Polamalu being absolutely great and vital to the Steelers' is old and misguided. Week 1, the Steelers gave up 10 points playing the majority of the game without Polamalu. Week 2. they gave up 17 points and week 3 they gave up 16. The defense is holding up it's end of the bargain. The Steelers have been screwed by a couple individual plays. This week it was the Sweed TD drop, and last week it was Reed missing 2 FGs. The notion that Polamalu being out being the main reason Pittsburgh is losing is head scratching.

- Cleveland is an unmitigated disaster.

- I've never seen so much hoopla over an 0-2, 7 rushing yard effort. I heard someone on the radio say "Vick looked comfortable, and he looked crisp.'' Completely forgetting that he played, I decided to peep the box score only to realize Vick didn't even complete a pass. I see the standards are still delightfully low when it comes to Vick. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

- The Seattle Seahawks jerseys made me feel like I was watching a team of Human lifesavers. Whoever came up with those uniforms should be released of his duties immediately.

-The Jets are 3-0. This start for them is completely unexpected. I don't think the defense played particularly well this week, but they did enough with the game on the line to come through with the 'W'.

-Jerricho Cotchery is 3rd in the league in receiving yards to this poont (Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne). Hopefully he keeps ir up).

-Every week Philip Rivers completes a bomb to Vincent Jackson that is mouth dropping. 3 guys draped all around, Jackson and he just comes down with it like it's nothing. Jackson is really making a name for himself among the game's top receivers.

- The play where Pennington injured himself didn't look that serious. Unfortunately for him, it was serious, and now his career is in jeopardy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thoughts on Week 2 of the NFL season

-Did Seattle put 11 guys on the field on D, Sunday? All I saw was Frank Gore, looking like Usain Bolt at an Olympic track meet, running untouched and unimpeded in straight lines in the open field.

-Miami's tiring usage of the wildcat tells me one main thing. They have little to no confidence in Chad Pennington leading the offense and putting up enough points, so they rely on trickery and gimmicks to try and score points. That is why he is a lame duck QB and is as good as gone in the offseason.

-Was JaMarcus Russell really 3/22 at one point in Sunday's game? 3/22? Really? You would think one would be able to complete more than 3 passes out of 22 by accident.

-Baltimore needs to find a way to get Kelly Washington into the endzone more often. That TD dance is absolutely hilarious.

- The last drive for SD in the BAL/SD game was absolutely baffling. On second down, Legedu Naanee is 1-2 stepping like Reggie Bush in the backfield, meanwhile he needs one yard for a first down. Why didn't the guy just lunge forward and get the first? I don't mind passing the ball on 3rd and 2, but it's almost as if Norv got his playcalls mixed up for the respective 3rd and 4th downs. If you are going to run the ball on one of those downs why not make it 3rd and 2? And on 4th and 2, for the ball game, how does running a 175 LB back through the middle of a defense featuring Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis make any sense, especially considering Rivers had 425 passing yards in the game and is one of the league's best QBs? I think that drive puts into perspective why SD has always been paper champions.

-Ray Lewis' play on the aforementioned 4th down was absolutely ridiculous. I'm surprised that:
A) Sproles held onto the ball
B) Sproles is still alive and well

-The Jets talked the talk, and then walked the walk. They brought the heat at Tom Brady all game long, and he was clearly flustered. Right now he is not the same QB. I think it's the psychological hurdle of having to overcome the 'fear' of the knee more than anything else.

- Randy Moss is sore and it's quite funny. 'Revis isn't a shutdown CB. No one is a shutdown CB, they all need help. Revis had help.' Did Revis have help every where on the field? You might as well have filed a Missing Person's Report because Moss was nowhere to be found on Sunday. And if Revis isn't a shutdown CB because he needs "help" then there are no great or "dominant" players in the NFL then, since they all need "help", no?

-Eli Manning leading his team on a fourth quarter comeback. Ho hum. It's amazing how good Eli looks on a regular basis, when the game is at its most chaotic stages. It's commonplace for him. That is the way to beat the Cowboys in the first game at their new palace.

-Carson Palmer rebounded from a tough start and led his team to a W at Lambeau Field. Good for him. Hopefully he rebounds from an injury plagued 2008 season.

- Can someone explain to me why Byron Leftwich has a starting job in the NFL? The guy is not good, and is a 'never was'. I guess he is just holding the fort until Josh Freeman is ready, but man is Leftwich brutal.

-Indianapolis ran 34 plays on Monday Night, and they scored 27 points in those 34 plays. Peyton Manning is just that damn good.

-It was nice to see Jay Cutler rebound and play a good game against the Steelers yesterday. He played disciplined smart football. He left the across the body madden esque throws in Green Bay, and it showed. Chicago needed some luck to win that game, but Cutler delivered when it mattered, leading the team to two scoring drives accounting for 10 points in the last 6 minutes of the game. On a related note, Johnny Knox looks solid.

-I'm in a gang of fantasy leagues, and in HALF of them I faced off with Chris Johnson. Guess how many of them I won for the week? Yep, zero. He's really good, but on that one long pass play what exactly was the Texans defense doing?

- The Redskins beat the Rams 9-7. Where was the Skins offense?

-Kurt Warner, 24-26. That is video game esque right there.

-Drew Brees and Marques Colston are percolating right now. It's hard to believe Colston was a 7th round draft pick. He's a very good wide receiver.

-Jake Delhomme rebounded fairly well from his latest stinker, but then did what he does best with the game on the line. He threw an interception.

-The Cleveland Browns are really, REALLY bad. Brady Quinn needs to step up and do something, ANYTHING, to keep his job and to point Cleveland in the right direction.

-The Broncos are 2-0. That's a mild surprise, but they have played 2 pretty nondescript teams in the process (Cleveland, Cincinnati). The Broncos D looks FAR better than it did last year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top 10 Building Blocks/Cornerstones- NFC West

If I was to draft 10 players from the NFC West to serve as my core of a Superbowl contender for the next 3-4 seasons, the players I would draft and the priority I place on them are:

10. John Carlson, TE, Seattle Seahawks- I'll be completely and bluntly honest. There are two reasons that Carlson is on this list. One of those reasons being that he used to play for the Fighting Irish, and another because the NFC West is absolutely pathetic. That being said, Carlson is a bright young player with a lot of skill who had an excellent rookie year. He had 55 catches for 627 yards, and 5 TDs, playing with a bunch of nobodies on an injury ravaged Seattle offense. He has a bright future ahead of him. Oh, and go Notre Dame!

9. Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, CB, Arizona Cardinals- While he has a tendency to give up the big play, as he showed in the postseason, he still is an incredibly gifted athlete who showed some good things as a rookie. His kind of natural ability isn't matched by many CBs in the NFL. if he can harness the nuances of his position, the sky is the limit for this guy.

8. OJ Atogwe, S, St Louis Rams- I rarely hear this guy's name mentioned among the league's best safeties, but he definitely is one of them. He's one of those really good players on a REALLY bad team so he doesn't get the notoriety some other players would. The last three seasons, Atogwe has 16 interceptions, and 24 pass deflections . He has proven he is adept in coverage, and has done so despite playing with a team practically devoid in talent in every other aspect of defense.

7. Lofa Tatupu, MLB, Seattle Seahawks- Lofa is Mr Reliable. He isn't going to wow you with his natural ability, but the guy is a really good football player. He always seems to be in the right spot, and hits very well. The last four years he has racked up 431 tackles and nine interceptions. He is one of the best middle linebackers in football.

6. Darnell Dockett, DT, Arizona Cardinals- Dockett is one of those guys who is just a disruption up front. He causes havoc on most weeks for whoever happens to have the unenviable task of blocking him. He's one of the league's better pass rushers from the defensive tackle spot, and can line up anywhere on the defensive line and cause problems. He doesn't have the greatest numbers in the world, but numbers aren't as paramount for defensive tackles, and don't really tell the whole story.

5. Marcus Trufant, CB, Seattle Seahawks- I like Trufant. I believe he's a top CB in the league and has been so for awhile. He has great physical ability, and has been excellent for the Seahawks. He has poor hands, but that is not a prerequisite to being a good CB, it is a bonus. Trufant and Cromartie give the team a potentially dynamic set of CBs.

4. Adrian Wilson, S, Arizona Cardinals- I think Wilson is behind only Ed Reed when it comes to safeties in the NFL. His speed, his size and his hitting ability (just ask Trent Edwards) makes him one of the league's best defensive players. He also is one of the league's best blitzers from the safety spot.

3. Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals- The only reason he isn't #2 on this list is durability concerns. Boldin plays fairly recklessly so he's a risk, given his age and injury history. All that being said, the guy is a top WR in the game and embodies consistency. Year in and year out, you can rely on Boldin for very good numbers. He is arguably the league's best possession WR, but can beat you in a variety of ways. Add to that the fact that he's probably one of the two or three hardest WRs in the league to tackle and you have a force.

2. Patrick Willis, MLB, San Francisco 49ers- There might not be a more talented defensive player in the league than Willis. He might also be one of the fastest players in the NFL, and an LB being in that discussion is saying something for sure. Willis flies to the ball and makes a ton of plays. His 315 tackles, 15 pass deflections and 5 sacks over the last two years speak to that ability and the scary part is that he can get even better.

1. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals- Fitzgerald is one of the game's very best wideouts. His size, his strength, his physical ability and most of all his amazing hands separate himself from the pack. Regardless of the terrible QBs and offensive lines he has been around, Fitzgerald has produced in a major way pretty much every season he has been in the league. He's one of those receivers you can pretty much build an entire offense around, and be successful that way.

Others who garnered consideration
Stephen Jackson, HB, St. Louis Rams
Frank Gore, HB, San Francicso 49ers
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Karlos Dansby, LB, Arizona Cardinals
Steve Breaston, WR, Arizona Cardinals
TJ Houshmanzadeh, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick signs with the Eagles

About a month after his reinstatement to the NFL, Michael Vick has found his way back into the NFL. Vick signed a one-year deal, with an option for a second year, with the Philadelphia Eagles marking his official return to the NFL after a two year hiatus.

Personally, while I've never been high on Vick as a football player, it's cool with me that he is back in the NFL. I realize what he did was absolutely heinous, disgusting, reprehensible, among a laundry list of other not so flattering words. That being said, he did his time, and hopefully he learned from it and is a stronger person as a result. I'm not buying the whole sob story act, or the whole 'I'm sorry, please forgive me' act, because in reality if he didn't get caught, who's to say he wouldn't STILL be doing those disgusting things? Am I saying it is impossible for a human being to be rehabilitated? No, I am not, but I am skeptical by nature. It always kills me when people say 'Oh, well he looks remorseful,'. Well, some people are better actors than others. I'm not saying he can't be remorseful, just that I don't buy it. All that being said, I'm not one to hold grudges and I definitely believe that he deserves a chance to redeem himself for the wrong that he has done. However, I'm not buying any of the 'woe is me, I'm sorry for what I did' rhetoric.

I do think that some of the 'He shouldn't be allowed to play ever again in life' sentiments, and even as far as callers on sports radio wishing him injury is somewhat extreme. I can understand why people would be outraged, especially those who love animals. I can even understand those who say the punishment wasn't strict enough, but really, not allowing him to ever play again in the NFL? Really? Honestly, if Vick isn't allowed to play again then there are a ton of NFL players who shouldn't be allowed to play again, based on some events that we know of (Stallworth-yes I'm aware he got suspended for a year, Leonard Little among others), and several others of which we don't know (Ray Lewis, probably half of the rest of the NFL). If there is consistency in the argument, I don't mind it, but if the crying foul is exclusive to Vick, that isn't right. I AM NOT trying to rationalize what he did, but the extreme nature of some of the complaints regarding Vick are a bit misdirected and exaggerated. He is not the most evil man that has ever walked the face of the planet.

And for the people crying foul about him being able to regain his job as a result, let's not forget the fact that, in essence, Vick DID lose his job. He was employed for the Atlanta Falcons making a truckload of money and got fired, and lost a ton of money during his jail stint. I also read a lot of comparing Vick to the regular joe. As unlikely as it is, someone fresh out of jail can also get a job somewhere else. Vick was released from his duties, went to jail, came out and another organization was interested in his duties. While Vick is playing in the same league, he now plays for a different employer for a reduced paycheck in a reduced role as he tries to rebuild his career.

I'm glad he is getting a chance to redeem himself, and genuinely hope he takes advantage of it. Will he ever be a good guy? Perhaps not. Is he actually sorry for what he's done, or what he lost as a result of getting caught? Who knows. But as a forgiving person, I hope he succeeds and becomes the latest good ol' American comeback story. What he did was heinous and inhumane, but I hope he rebounds from the adversity that he has faced, and conquers it.

As far as the football ramifications, I think the name and the luster of the story far outweigh what he will actually do on the field. The Eagles already have a QB, they already have a stable of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, and I'm not buying into the 'fad' called the Wildcat. I can see him being on the field for 7-10 plays a game and someone to be accounted for, but can't see him doing enough to make the signing a noteworthy one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thoughts on the Yankees/Red Sox series

-The crowd was as loud as I've heard it all season over the weekend. A winning team and the hated Red Sox tend to have that kind of effect.

-A.J. Burnett was simply marvelous Friday night. While Burnett can be somewhat erratic at times, his start Friday night was a snapshot to why the Yankees paid the man $82 million this offseason to be their #2 starter.

-Boy, John Smoltz has hit a wall hasn't he? If he was on any other team, I'd probably feel a little bad for the guy. It has to be tough for someone who has seen nothing but success for the majority of his career to have his performance just fall off a cliff like that. Regardless, I'm glad the Yankees were able to bash him into his current 'DFA' status.

- It's truly a beautiful thing to watch Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter turn the double play. There were three that stuck out to me this weekend, those being the Ortiz 4-6-3 on Friday night, the 4-6-3 on Lowell Saturday, and the 6-4-3 on Bay tonight. Boy, can they turn it or what?

- The ESPN broadcast team, as I've said ad nauseum, is absolutely horrendous. They make John Sterling sound like a combination of Marv Albert, Vin Scully and Al Michaels.

-It's good to see Alex Rodriguez come through with big hits for the team. Rodriguez is vilified far too much for a player of his stature. While he brings some of it on himself, the guy is a great baseball player. It's nice to see him come through in a big spot. He has actually done that quite a bit this year, and even in his relatively abbreviated season, he has come through quite a bit in the big spot. That was an absolute shot he hit off Lester tonight.

- Mark Teixiera is simply an awesome baseball player. To this point that signing has been a rousing success. His offensive numbers, and his defense have been top notch. I think you can make a very good argument for him as the American League MVP. To this point, he has been worth every penny. That bomb he hit off Bard was incredible, and I've never heard the Stadium that loud.

-This series was well pitched from the time A.J. Burnett took the mound on Friday to the end of the series. It's a pleasant change of pace from the usual sloppy, back and forth slugfests for which these two teams usually partake.

- While the Red Sox did get swept, I have to admit that they have the makings of a nice pitching staff with Beckett, Lester and Bucholz in the future. We all know about Lester and Beckett, as they are proven commodities, but Bucholz has nasty stuff and pitched very well on Saturday.

- Mariano Rivera is so automatic that it's a surprise when he puts a runner on base. I'm going to miss that man when he retires

- The chants of 'Sweep' at the end of Sunday's game was great. Hopefully the Stadium remains like this for the rest of the year, and the 'public library' atmosphere goes away. That is for the birds.

-Johnny Damon, like the rest of the Yankee team, has benefited immensely from the short right field porch in the New stadium, but that shot he hit last night was legitimate. He blasted it, and sent the Stadium into a frenzy. He has been a very good offensive player for the Yankees this year, artificially enhanced numbers or not.

-The sweep is a significant body blow to the Red Sox. They were already reeling and the Yankees set them back even further. It will be interesting to see if they can recover from it.

- The chant of 'Sweep' at the end of last night's game was incredible.

-Lastly, GO YANKEES!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Eli Manning gets paid

And when I say 'paid' I mean 'PAID'. Can you say 'mucho dinero'? The Giants made Eli Manning, the NFL's highest paid player. Manning agreed to terms on a new contract that will pay him $106.9 million (I got a little light headed typing that) over the next seven seasons. He gets a six year, $97.5 extension added onto his current contract which has him making $9.4 million for this upcoming season, the final season of the previous contract. The average yearly salary of $15.23 million, between now and 2015, is an NFL record. The contract features $35 million as the signing bonus, Manning will see $41 million in the first two years of the pact.

Eli Manning is one of my favorite players in the NFL, and is my guy. That being said, this contract is a bit on the ridiculous side. I like him as a player, because he is a good QB. But is just a "good" QB, worth this contract? Eli has always handled himself like a champion through good and through bad, and is as good as it gets with the game in the balance. At the most chaotic of times during the course of a game, Eli's calm demeanor is never fazed. While Eli's statistics were never particularly pretty, he has thrown at least 20 TDs in every full season in the NFL. I think that particular fact is often overlooked when it comes to Eli. Manning is also one of the best QBs in the league in clutch situations, which he has displayed on a consistent basis.

The Giants were in a tough spot when it comes to the negotiations, especially considering this is the last year of Eli's deal. If they offered Eli what he considered a "lowball" deal, what if he basically tells the Giants off, and says 'I'm going to free agency'? You then risk the guy leaving. For all of Eli's faults, he is a good quarterback and during the Superbowl run he was excellent. Do you take a risk on that particular fellow, who is also the Giants "franchise" QB leaving? Or do you pay him handsomely to keep him happy? This is, in essence, throwing a dog a bone. It's a 'Thank you for being a class act, and being so good during the last SB' pay raise for Manning. The only part I think it will affect, is the fact that a contract that big takes dollars away from other parts of the team down the line. I don't think the overpaying of him is really that big a deal, it's no different than the Steelers overpaying for Roethlisberger after last season.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Vick "reinstated"

Michael Vick's "reinstatement" into the NFL and the five game suspension

I realize what he did with the killing of the dogs was heinous, and what he did running the gambling ring revolved around dog fighting, deems him untrustworthy at this point. That being said, suspending him for 5 games in my opinion is a bit much. I know the suspension 'can be uplifted' on 'good behavior, but the man has done two years in prison, lost two years of his NFL career, lost a lot of money. When does punishment beyond that become excessive?

I've heard this, 'Well, he's lucky he has a chance to play in the NFL, and he's lucky he still has a job.. If that was me...' Well, it isn't you. The reality of the situation is Vick is a professional athlete, and professional athletes, like it or not, are held to different standards. Leonard Little killed a woman and did three months in jail, Donte Stallworth killed a man and did 20 days. They are held to a higher standard, so in some instances comparing the average human being to an athlete is a really flawed way to look at things. For the most part, common folks don't have the access to the money, the legal teams, and don't have the notoriety that these athletes do. 50,000 people aren't coming to see 'us' play. Fact of the matter is, athletes for the most part are viewed in a different light when it comes to everything. Is it fair? Not necessarily, but it's the way it is for the most part.

Am I saying Vick should have gotten off scot free? No, not necessarily. I think a two game suspension would have been just and fair. Suspending him two games is a punishment, it's clear, and it gives Vick a better opportunity to catch on with a team and potentially restart his career. Now with the five game suspension that is "subject to change", none of the teams know when the guy is going to be officially off the hook. Hell, Goodell can get up tomorrow morning and while eating his wheaties say, 'Hey, I should suspend Vick until week 10, ' Who can stop him? After all it IS subject to change. I think the five game suspension does a major disservice to Vick because the teams are going to be gun shy as it is with all the negative press, but not knowing when he's going to play could affect these teams and their pursuit of him as well. The suspension just puts an even bigger cloud of uncertainty around Vick.

So my question to Goodell is, when is enough, enough?

I'll leave his startling inconsistency when it comes to issues around the league for another day.

Potential suitors for Vick?

As far as the his potential suitors, it comes down to a few questions in my opinion:

1. When does he get to start playing?
2. What are the teams going to look at him to do?
3. Is his potential production as your starting QB good enough to offset the negative press and the distractions that are bound to come from his involvement with the franchise? I think that is a resounding 'NO', but who knows, maybe in the right offense he can improve. I doubt it, coming off of two years in the pen, but crazier things have happened.

If a team is really desperate (Minnesota I'm looking at you) , I think signing him, bringing him in on a cheap deal couldd be an astute move. If he doesn't work out, cut him. As a starting QB, I'm not sure his caliber as a QB offsets all the baggage he brings at this point. I don't think it does.

That being said, I think EVERY team in the NFL should look into him as a gadget player/weapon because (assuming he can still run CLOSE to the way he used to) he is still useful in the fact that you can line him up on the field and do some different things using Vick in space. Having a weapon like that can't hurt, and I think it would be smart for all the teams to at least entertain that idea.

I don't see him starting this year for someone barring an injury, but I think in a QB starved league for the most part, some teams should at least look into it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Top 10 Building Blocks/Cornerstones- NFC South

If I was to draft 10 players from the NFC South to serve as my core of a Superbowl contender for the next 3-4 seasons, the players I would draft and the priority I place on them are:

10. DeAngelo Williams- I thought coming out of the draft that Williams would be the best halfback of the 2006 class, and so far he has been up there with Maurice Jones Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars production wise. He is coming off a career year where he ran for 18 TDs, and 1,515 yards. I don't expect him to replicate those numbers again, but he will be solid along with Turner in support of Brees

9. Gaines Adams, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Adams, is a young, gifted DE who showed a penchant for getting to the QB in his rookie season with an impressive 6.5 sacks. He has all the tools and while we have two other stud DEs on the team, you know the saying, 'You can never have too many pass rushers'

8. John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons- As much as I don't particularly like this fellow, going back to the Jets days, his impact cannot be understated. While he isn't exactly the most stout player against the run, he makes up for it with deadly pass rushing moves that makes Sundays difficult for a lot of tackles in the NFL. While his injury history, and his limited threshold for pain is definitely a concern, it's hard to overlook his production and pure ability. He is coming off a season where he put together 16.5 sacks, and has 50 in his last 5 seasons. The bottom line is, this guy can get after the QB, and guys who can do that are extremely valuable commodities.

7. Jon Beason, MLB, Carolina Panthers- The University of Miami aka 'The U', is just a factory that produces very good NFL players. Beason is just one of the many to come from Miami. He burst onto the scene in 2007 as a rookie, and has started every game since. He has put together 278 tackles, 14 deflections and four interceptions. He's a young, fast, athletically gifted LB who has a bright future, and will be the captain of the defense for many years to come.

6. Jordan Gross, T, Carolina Panthers- I need a guy to protect my superstar, shiny QB, and Gross is widely considered one of the best tackles in the game. He should keep the star pass rushers in check a bit.

5. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans- Colston is one of the best late round gems in the 2006 draft (Good job to the Jets missing out on a guy that played in your backyard). In three seasons, Colston has put up 3,000 yards and 24 TDs, and that is with missed time last season. He's the big possession target that is often important in an offense and with his 215 catches during his first three seasons he has proven his hands to be more than reliable. He has a chemistry with our QB, and is a 26 year old with a bright future

4. Michael Turner, HB, Atlanta Falcons- I'll be honest, I thought Turner would be LaMont Jordan Part II in Atlanta. To this point I couldn't have possibly been more wrong. Turner was the heart and soul of that offense last season, as Atlanta shocked everyone in posting an 11-5 record, making the postseason. Turner is a great north and south runner who has enough speed to separate in the open field and is an absolute terror to bring down. The Falcons have built a nice offensive nucleus for this upcoming season with Ryan, Turner, White and newcomer Tony Gonzalez. Expect Turner to have even more space with which to work this season.

3. Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina Panthers.- Yes, I already have two defensive ends but you can never have too many pass rushers. While Peppers had a very shaky 2007 season, he rebounded last season with 14.5 sacks, reestablishing himself as one of the premiere pass rushers in the NFL. Supreme physical ability, great pass rushing moves, and incredible closing speed make Peppers a nightmare for offenses all around the NFL. 70 sacks in seven seasons and still chugging. Peppers will be the anchor of my defensive line for the next 3-4 seasons, and I expect him to play at a high enough level to make that a smart choice.

2.Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers- He is arguably the best player in the division, and clearly the division's most explosive player. At a diminutive 5'9, Smith offers incredible strength, breakaway speed, and good route running. Overall he has a good polish to his game, and has been very productive for a long time despite the not so ideal QB situation in Carolina. Smith and Brees will make my offense a force.

1. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints- What more can be said about this guy at this point? At this point, the guy IS the New Orleans Saints offense, yet goes out there and throws for 5000 yards. He has been the most productive QB in the league statistically since he signed in New Orleans, and has done so without much of a supporting cast. He hasn't had much at WR outside of Marques Colston and he has had nothing at RB to take pressure off him. He goes out there every Sunday with a Bulls eye on his chest and produces. I want that guy leading my football team, though I think he has some questions to answer as far as performance in big situations goes.

Others who garnered serious consideration:

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Jonathan Vilma, MLB, New Orleans Saints
Barrett Ruud, MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Antonio Bryant, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Top 10 Building Blocks/Cornerstones- NFC North

If I was to draft 10 players from the NFC North to serve as my core of a Superbowl contender for the next 3-4 seasons, the players I would draft and the priority I place on them are:

10. Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago Bears- I'm aware that Urlacher is getting up there, and that he has declined a bit but he is still a good LB. He has always made all the difference in the world to the LBs playing with him, and is a great leader. He is also an asset in coverage. He should be good for the next three to four seasons. And if not, he still has some value in the "mentor" role.

9. Steve Hutchinson, G, Minnesota Vikings- Even though he is 34 years old, Hutch is still one of the best run blocking linemen in the business. That being said, I'm putting him on the list more for the influence he'll have on the rest of my linemen, than his actual caliber. Along with being great in run blocking, Hutchinson also brings a significant mean streak to his craft. Hutchinson has also made quite an impact on the RBs he has played with, most recently been Adrian Peterson. Just think, Shaun Alexander with Hutchinson was an MVP. Without him, witness protection? Where has he been anyway?

8. Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago Bears- Olsen will never be confused for an extra offensive lineman, but the size and skills he brings to the position aren't matched by many. He can split out if you need be, and is a guy that has to be accounted for at all times. With a new QB, and the QB of my fictitious team, Jay Cutler now leading the huddle, Olsen should see a rise in his numbers as more balls will come his way.

7. Aaron Kampman, DE, Green Bay Packers- Kampman is a very good pass rusher, which is shown with his 37.5 sacks over the last three years. It will be interesting to see the transition he ends up making this season since he will be playing in a 3-4 defense for the first time in his NFL career. Pass rushers come at a premium and Kampman is one of the better ones in the league.

6. Kevin Williams, DT, Minnesota Vikings- There might not be a better OVERALL defensive tackle in football than Mr. Williams. Not only is Williams one of the two main anchors on a consistenty great run defense, he has put up 16.5 sacks in the last 3 seasons, along with 16 pass deflections and 2 INTs. He can do a little bit of everything and he will be the anchor of the run defense.

5. Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers- I mentioned him in another entry as the most underrated player in the NFL. He has explosive speed, good hands, is tough as nails, and is great with the ball in his hands. He's a cost controlled, young stud WR, who reaches the endzone a lot. He will be one of the best complimentary players in the game on my squad.

4. Adrian Peterson, HB, Minnesota Vikings- Now, before I go on, let me just make it clear that Adrian Peterson is the best player on this list and that point probably isn't debatable. That being said, he is a running back and the career spans for those guys are fairly short ,and I don't think having a great RB is really a necessary component of a championship team. Peterson is definitely the best RB in the league though, and one of the most explosive players in the entire NFL.

3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions- I don't know what is more scary: how good this guy already is on the worst team in NFL history, or how good the guy CAN be given he just completed his second season in the league. Johnson is arguably the best WR prospect ever, and put up a monster season this past season. In my opinion, he is the best WR in the league, and he is all of 23 years old. His potential is scary.

2. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings- I flip flopped one and two for awhile before finally coming to a conclusion. I don't think people really see and appreciate just how good this guy is. 30 sacks in his last two seasons and 57.5 sacks in the last 5, show that this guy is one of the very best pass rushers in the business. The only thing that I value as much as good QB play, is a good pass rush, and who better than Mr. Allen? Not many.

1. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears- Cutler is currently one of the more polarizing figures in the NFL right now based on his tantalizing talent, the people who realize that talent and the production that comes with it, along with the people who criticize him for the way he orchestrated his way out of Denver or because he hasn't had the ability to single handedly bring garbage teams to the promised land like so many other QBs in the NFL do (that is sarcastic). Consider me in the "fan" boat, as I love the guy and the way he plays. His arm is among the best in football and he came off a season where he threw for 4500 yds and 25 TDs. He was the focal point of the Broncos offense and yet still succeeded with the pressure of having to score on damn near every possession. Cutler is still learning but has already established himself as one of the top young signal callers in the game. He has the physical tools, and his pocket presence is very good. A young franchise caliber QB with a rifle arm, accuracy and top notch production to go with it trumps all.

Guys who garnered consideration:

Ernie Sims, LB, Detroit Lions
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Chad Greenway, LB, Minnesota Vikings
Lance Briggs, LB, Chicago Bears
Matt Forte, HB, Chicago Bears
Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers

Antoine Winfield, CB, Minnesota Vikings

Nick Collins, S, Green Bay Packers

Olin Kreutz, C, Chicago Bears

Nick Barnett, LB, Green Bay Packers

AJ Hawk, LB, Green Bay Packers
Robbie Gould, K, Chicago Bears

Top 10 Building Blocks/Cornerstones- NFC East

If I was to draft 10 players from the NFC East to serve as my core of a Superbowl contender for the next 3-4 seasons, the players I would draft and the priority I place on them are:

10. David Diehl, LT, New York Giants- You need someone to protect the QB's blind side. After watching Jason Peters get beaten like a runaway convict all of last season, I can't put him on the list. Diehl is a good, but flawed player. He makes the list by default.

9. Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants- Umenyiora showed his value in the Superbowl, as him and the rest of that defensive line was all over Tom Brady like Roseanne Barr at a buffet table. The only reason he isn't higher on this list is because of the injury he is coming off of last season. From 2004-07, Umenyiora compiled 40.5 sacks, establishing himself as one of the best pass rushers in the business. As is proven over and over, a great pass rush is one of the most important components of a Superbowl winner. The last two SB winners (Giants, Steelers) are great examples of that. With Umenyiora, who is only 27, he should continue to be a productive pass rusher for the next 3-4 years.

8. LaRon Landry, FS, Washington Redskins- Landry is an intimidating safety who runs like the wind, and hits like a truck, but is also more than adequate in coverage. I like those kind of players. I thought he would establish himself as a top two or three safety but he is still very raw. He has all the skills in the world, but he has a lot of growing to do on and off the field. He is only 24 years old and the sky is the limit, and if Landry reaches anywhere near his potential he could be the best safety in the entire NFL down the line.

7. Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants- In the last two seasons, Tuck has 22 sacks, and has proven to be a terror for offensive linemen all around the league (just ask Logan Mankins). He has the ability to line up anywhere on the defensive line, as he lined up mostly at the tackle spot in the "four aces" look the Giants employed in 2007. He is now a full time defensive end, but has the versatility to line up at tackle if need be. In addition to being a deadly pass rusher he also plays strong against the run. At 26 years old, he has many more good years left, and with Umenyiora we have a fearsome DE combination.

6. Brian Westbrook, HB, Philadelphia Eagles- I'm not a big fan of putting Westbrook this high because of his age and injury concerns but there is no denying this man's talent and production. While he's on the injury list every week, and never practices he still manages to produce. He has also played in 44 of a possible 48 games the last three seasons. While he had a down year (for him) last season, his versatility and the threat of him out of the backfield make him a good pick at this spot.

5. Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins- Cooley has always been among the most productive tight ends in the league despite not ever having a good quarterback to throw him the ball. He has always been a focal point in the Redskins offense but still has managed to get his. Cooley is a great pass catcher, who brings versatility and good hands to the table. He is also taken at that spot to make up for a lack of clear, legitimate receiving options available at the WR spot in this division (Roy Williams has a lot to prove).

4. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys- Another TE? Really? Yes, I want my QB to have plenty of weapons to throw the ball to, not taking into account the form in which they come. Witten is a "seam buster", a guy who has good hands, and is very much in tune with the QB who will lead my team (Romo). He is the definition of safety blanket, and should be the 'go to guy' when Romo is in trouble.

3. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys- I don't put much stock into the fact that Eli Manning "won" a Superbowl, and no I don't care what McNabb does or has done in his career. Romo is clearly the best QB in the division in my eyes. His arm, the touch, the accuracy, and the arsenal of throws he brings to the table as well as his mobility and feel for the pocket make him the pick here. There is no doubt that Romo's performance in big games is worrisome, but that can be alleviated over the course of time, especially when you consider his "failures" in big games are at a whopping number of two. That being said, you can't teach the skill that Romo has.

2. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Washington Redskins- Haynesworth is a beast without question. The guy is a disruptive force, and for a man that size he is quite nimble. He was a wrecking ball in the middle of the Titans defense and also lined up at end many times and was a nightmare for tackles all over the league. The thing about Haynesworth is I truly believe that the guy could also be an all-pro defensive end if placed at that spot. He is truly a special player, and hopefully he keeps motivated enough to make full use of those tools. With the defense we employ, we now have another guy we can lineup all over the place.

1. DeMarcus Ware, LB, Dallas Cowboys- I'm still not quite sure how he didn't win Defensive Player of the Year this past season, compiling a mind blowing 20 sacks, but this guy is an unbelievable football player. Is there anything he cannot do? The best pass rusher in the business, and the best 3-4 OLB in the business, Ware has absolutely dominated to the tune of 53.5 sacks in 4 years. He is a dominant, unstoppable force who is also a do-it-all LBer. I definitely think Ware will eventually set the record for sacks in a season, when it's all said and done. With Ware, Umenyiora, Haynesworth, Tuck, QBs better watch for their lives!!

And my coaching staff, for fun
HC- Tom Couglin
OC- Andy Reid
DC- Jim Johnson

Others who garnered serious consideration:
Desean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Roy Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Antonio Pierce, LB, New York Giants
Chris Snee, G, New York Giants
Shawn Andrews, G, Philadelphia Eagles
Clinton Portis, HB, Washington Redskins

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thoughts on the Baseball Season halfway through

-Joe Mauer is a complete and total stud. The guy missed an entire month and still managed to hit .373 with 15 HR, 49 RBI, a .622 Slugging Percentage and 1.069 OPS. The guy is so good it's ridiculous and he's only 26 years old so he has room to improve. It will be interesting to watch his progress in the second half of the season. You can make the argument that he is the most valuable commodity in baseball, and that he is the game's best player. All I know is, when it comes time for free agency Mauer will get paid hansomely. He is a machine.

-Albert Pujols' first half would be a breakout season for 75% of the players in Major League Baseball. He is hitting .332 with 32 HRs, 87 RBis, twice as many walks as Ks (71 to 35), .456 OBP, .723 slugging, 1.179 OPS, and just to add the cherry on top he also has 10 stolen bases. The NL MVP race is over.

-Justin Verlander is absolutely nasty. It is good to see him performing at a high level once again, as he is exciting to watch. He possesses a high octane fastball, and nasty breaking stuff. He has a 3.38 ERA and has struck out 149 batters in 122 innings and has a WHIP of 1.19. He's shown glimpses of why he was considered one of the best pitchers in baseball just two years ago.

- Yankee Stadium needs to be altered in the offseason. And as a type this I just hit one out to right field from the seat of my desk chair.

-It will be interesting to see what happens with the Halladay situation in Toronto. Unless you live in a cave, you know that Halladay has been made available by Blue Jay management. I've heard that Toronto is essentially using Vernon Wells as a poison pill in the deal. In other words, if a team wants Halladay they have to take on the remainder of Wells' 100 million contract. That narrows down the potential suitors to a select few. Toronto, given their position, probably will not get market value for him if they decide to move him. I'm curious to see who antes up for Halladay. The guy is a top 3 pitcher in baseball right now, and an asset to any team.

-Citi Field might as well be called Yellowstone. When you hit one out there, that is a REAL accomplishment. I feel bad for the Mets though, as it seems like every significant piece of their lineup but David Wright has been hurt all year. The Mets have fielded the near equivalent of a Triple-A lineup for far too long. I hope Reyes, Beltran, and Delgado get healthy soon. Hang in there, Mets fans.

- I hope the Washington Nationals set the record for most losses in a season (121). Why? I don't know. I'm an evil person, apparently.

-The Dodgers have made the jump to MLB's elite. A big reason for that is the high level of performance from three young stars in the making in Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, and Chad Billingsley. Those guys have all taken major strides this season, and it has helped the Dodgers establish themselves as arguably the best team in baseball. Andre Ethier has also made major contributions, and Jonathan Broxton has been steady. In the offseason, the Dodgers also got the steal of the offseason, signing Orlando Hudson who has been his usual steady self. The Dodgers are obviously the favorite in a very weak NL, and it'll be interesting to see if they are able to win it all.

-The Phillies signing of Pedro Martinez will end up being a good one. Martinez isn't going to turn back the clock to 1999, but he can definitely be solid enough to help Philadelphia maintain their division lead. He'll probably pitch to a 4 ERA, with around a 1.3 WHIP, go at or around 6 innings per start.

-If the Giants can acquire a power bat from somewhere, they will be a tough out come postseason time. Lincecum and Cain form arguably the best 1-2 punch in baseball, and we have all seen how a great 1-2 pitching combination can elevate a team to heights they otherwise wouldn't see (see: 2001 Diamondbacks).