NFL16 – SB50: Cam Cues Days of Dart & Dash

4 Feb ....Newton.9.28.14.668k.wc.K.Allison

Modern Maximus at 50

Old Rome had it’s Circus Maximus where chariots raced, gladiators got jugular, arts performed, gods were honored and general revelry ensued for the masses.

........Newton.wc.C.Brice.9.11.11.thmWe have our “great Circus” in 2016. We call it the Super Bowl. Next in line, #50 (’67).

And for the first time since the merger, the Romans, numerals, that is, got the heave-ho. About time, we say, Mr. Goodell, no offense, Julius, Caesar, that is.

Our version of the High Hootenanny is a bit tamer than the Empire’s public shindig, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancients were more adept than are we today in the art of restroom deployment. Very ‘public’ but very present (See; Rick Steve’s Europe (Rome)). Terrific engineers, were those “world shakin’” Italians.

.......CircusMaximus.wc.04.Xeospeed.thmHigh-light of Super Bowl week is, of course, the NFL championship game held Sunday night in Santa Clara, Ca-li-for-ni-a (CBS 6:30 EST), pitting the slightly surprising AFC champ Denver Broncos against NFC titlists, the Panthers of Carolina.

Both are, as Gen. Allenby would’ve said, “riding the whirlwind (J.Hawkins).”

Though Gary Kubiak head coaches his first Super, like his counterpart in Carolina’s Ron Rivera, about half the Broncos remain from the squad that took a shellacking in SB48 at hands of Seattle (43-8). The Cats make only their 2d showing, first since they came up short in SB38 versus the Patriots, 32-29.

Team records are out the window before a championship. And it’s defense that defines both clubs in this one. It is on that side of the ball, as it was with Seattle, upon which their offenses feed for emotional fire.

Cats are led by perennial All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and safety Kurt Coleman (LB T. Davis plays with screws in his arm and DE K. Short a bunged knee), while Denver features ILBs Dan Trevathan and Brandon Marshall with outsider Von Miller specializing in the sack (11).

.......Trevathan.9.9.12.J.Beall.wc.thm,JPGUsually overlooked in pre-game analysis, even as one of the oldest, key aspects of the football contest, the kicking games, compare well. Punters Britton Colquitt (DEN) and Brad Nortman (CAR) rate equal as do the place-kickers, though, edge to Denver (B. McManus) in the PS (7-7 (Gano 2-2) and 50+ (5-7 (2-2) v 2-4 (0)).

But as always in this quarterback league, the signal-callers are the focal points of Super Bowl spotlight and scribery.

And excepting their Southeaster Conference heritage (TN – AU), the two guys at the offensive controls could not be more different.

Some dissimilarities are obvious, in age and race.

This season, like the past five, Cam has been near epitome of physical wherewithal, playing in 78 of 80 RS games for the Cats while Peyton has struggled to stay suited with various maladies, missing all of 2011 (neck) and about 1/3 of 2015. Though, fair to point out he had made every start in 2012-14.

......Newton.wc.7.12.11.thm.sportiqeLess noticeable to the casualite is their difference in style: Peyton’s proto-typical pocket passer who relies on his not-what-it-used-to-be arm, savvy and run sufficiency. That necessarily includes a stout O-line, backs that can block, his own ability to read D with proficiency and handy men who can hang on.

Cam is flash. Forgoing education time in the pocket classroom, Newton bolts quickly when the pressure comes and first-look receivers are covered, carrying more of the load but also living on the wild-side by inviting downfield hits and making his tendency to rabbit a red-flag to defenders and their strategists.

Ironically, if Cam & Co. hoist the VLT Sunday it’ll mark the beginning of the end of the pocket-passer’s NFL dominance, given how coach-free run-QB proliferates in college, just as one of the greatest passers all-time in Manning is pondering his final curtain call on a storied career in what may be his swan song game.

Rumor (“report”) says SB50 will be Manning’s last game (NFLN). Someone has even planted the LA Rams seed as a possible new home in 2016 for the Broncos starting QB. Story slots need filling for Super week and the latter one was fun.

.....Manning.thm.9.14.14.J.Beall.wc.ccaThe reasons why Peyton would retire post-SB50 are multitude. But if Manning-the-Elder-Son plays well in a win or even a close loss there’s reason to believe he’d return for one more go at it in 2016-17, health permitting and Broncos’ (another club) braintrust concurring, making this “report” appear more speculatory even as Ian Rapoport generally hits his marks.

Unlike Favre in finale (2010-11), Manning still seems vested with desire to compete. His next game (“one week at a time”) will have everything to do with how long he maintains that desire, making it unlikely he’d have a “plan” in place, let alone reveal it to anyone outside immediate family. Someone made a mis-read

But even if Sir Runs-Alot does not hoist it Sunday, the day of run-QB’s dominance is just a hop, skip & jump away. Pocket passer will rule the roost for this and into the next decade but “the bell tolls” for the glory days of the dynamic & diverse NFL offense.

Age of the new millennial QB is here and Newton is it‘s John Hancock.

♫ Rock Your Baby ♫

It’s been presaged since he hoisted the heavy hardware at Auburn in 2010: The BCS title trophy, Tigers’ 2d national (’57), and the still-coveted-in-some-circles (Disney (ESPN)) huge Heisman doorstop.

Now Cam Newton preps to play on the biggest stage in American sport, the Super Bowl, hoping to hoist the heaviest in accolade in the vaunted VLT (Vince Lombardi trophy). And the 2015 MVP? That race looks like Newton will take the tape since Brady & Palmer stumbled late and the top NFL defender almost always crosses the finish-line unnoticed or with little fanfare (See; N.Bowman).

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11The man from Atlanta was made for the spotlight: Ear-to-ear smile, 6’5 frame, multi-faceted skill-set and a showmanship that exhibits on cue. Cam’s “bursting with country fresh flavor (Seinfeld),” gosh darnit!

It’s been quite an NFL ride for Carolina’s 3-time All-Pro signal-caller, if you like roller-coasters. Beats the Zipper or that spider thing.

Rookie year (‘11) seemed to bode well for big things to come.

The Panters went 6-10, Camster-the-Hamster scampered for a frosh record 14 TDs and passed for 4000+. Not too shabby for a rookie. But with every step forward there was another step back. The C%’s and TD-ratios fluctuated as did W-L records: Good (12-4 (‘13)), not so good (5-8-1 (‘14)).

But when expectations are high those up & down swings won’t, as they used to say in the Napoleonic Wars, cut the mustard. Sacré bleu!

Now comes NFL 2015-16.

Just when many fans were losing patience, beginning to waver, having serious doubts about his game and whether he could channel physical talents into sustainable team success, Cam plays a turn-the-corner type season.

.....Rivera.6.10.11.R.Paraglide.wc.thmDoes that mean Cam’s come of age? Depends on the venue.

In the home setting, he and his love were just recently blessed with a bouncing baby boy (“Chosen”). Key to the first year of rearing: Parents “buying (each other’s) chairs (Phenomenon ‘96).” Stack ’em on the porch if need be. It’s worth it.

On gridiron he’s finally looking pro-efficient, comfortable.

Generaling the Panthers’ offense to a 17-1 record and cusp of greatness can qualify as professional maturity. The fact that 2015 was the worst year in this memory for quality of competition amongst the NFL ranks should detract little from that assessment.

Those who gripe about his fly routine on TD are working OT to find fault. He’s a hot-dog (70s), there’s no doubt there. Superman never boasted. But success, i.e., taking the VLT, will automatically fit one with suit of maturity to market pizzas and pop, commercially convenient as that may be (See; Lynch & Gronkowski).

Kurious Kindred Spirits

Ironically, it was 30 years ago last week Cam’s kindred spirit was also drinking in the limelight and would lead his offense to victory in SB20 (1.26.86).

....McMahon.93.wc.Diz28.thbThe man who invented the helmet head-butt, battled Commish Pete Rozelle over headband displays and teammate of Cam coach Ron River, Bears’ QB Jim McMahon, was constituting the offensive and emotional catalyst for Chicago’s magical run in 1985-86, culminating with their resounding win over the Patriots (46-10) in the Louisiana Superdome.

The sporting gods were busy in the Windy City in 1985, a season of “gods and monsters (“Dr. Pretorius”)”), endowing liberally (Dent, Marshall, Singletary, Payton, Frazier, etc.). But it was McMahon who set the run in motion that MNF in Minnesota when he came off the bench to engineer a killer-quarter with three quick TD strikes.

Numbers never lie? Fiddlesticks. They can tell tall tales. Jim’s 1985 totals were almost Igor-ish in comparison to most but his leadership and moxie were immeasurable. After that game the Monsters of Midway never looked back and finished the regular like Carolina at 15-1, a trip to Miami in W13 the lone blemish when Fuller started and the noise-meter red-lined to no avail.

...Bears.AIoC.wc.2.19.07.thm.SenorCodoThe Bears big season didn’t forge a “new world” of dynasty for Halas Hall but it did set a standard for singular season prowess by which all modern NFL champions are measured.

As for the New England Patriots, the Super Bowl stage is the Great Exaggerator: Winners who ride a wave, the defeated who can often be living Murphy‘s Law. The Patriots got a taste of title (AFCC) and wanted more (See: the Bills of Foxborough).

Cam Newton hopes in possessing that same McMahon cocky-charisma, his teammates can feed off it to fuel the fire to victory.

One issue to note for both QBs: If adversity hits (DDD: down double-digits), can Cam and Peyton keep cool and turn air-of-superiority into resilient resurgence? Broncos have had a wealth of adversity in this campaign, Carolina’s mostly cruised. How one handles adversity may be the truest test of a champion.

Flash Cam

Newton still struggles a bit with the celebrity, bristling at criticism, not unlike another kindred spirit in Sir Isaac Newton. England’s Mr. Motion was said to run from counter-takes like the plague. Nobody likes flak. But unless perfect or all powerful it’s a life reality. Some know it better than others and adapt as need.

...FlashCam.Kodak.6.15.15.J.Haupt.thmIn a Super Bowl press conference last week Cam had this to say: “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare alot of people because they…they haven’t seen nothin’ that they can compare me to (1.27.16).”

Showing his race card may’ve over-played the hand.

Last time a run-QB was on the Super stage he got handed his lunch (Kaep). Then the lights went out and SF feasted (SB47). Maybe Newton’s the one feeling the jitters. When he tables the race topic and keeps on football he can make a fair point. Many fans do disfavor the flash form that Cam displays. Don’t count the “yutes (My Cousin Vinny ‘92)” among them. Kids have no interest whatsoever in cartoon-football (Pro Bowl Rice v Irvin) but they just adore muscle-bound run-QB (See also; the Home Run Derby).

Why the pass on run-QB? Because Sir Runs-Alot is a ball-hog, taking touches from receivers and ball-carriers both, making them less relevant and the game less diverse, though, Panthers’ faithful aren’t complaining. In college, where run-QB has come to dominate, they’re nearly unstoppable (See; Saban).

...Kapp.wc.EllensburgDaily.73k.12.26.69.thmIt’s a style throwback to the single-wing tailback (40s), a “wide open” type of quarterbacking, “not contained (NFL Films).” Vikings’ Joe Kapp may’ve been the last true SWTB, Cunningham and Young reviving the form slightly, though, showing top talent for pass. Russ Wilson’s style stirred the debate but is cut more from the Staubach cloth: Mobility as necessity (1st-downs).

Will Cam’s style come to dominate the pros?

That’s been the debate since “nothin’” Mike Vick exploded onto the scene in ’02. Kaep, another “nothin’” in Cam’s view, gave flash a boost but got red-zone blues in crunch. And therein lay one of it’s fatal flaws: Exiting the (pocket) classroom early to avoid hits but forgoing the education in D-read comprehension that rounds out the “skill set.” ‘No pain, no gain’ should begin in the juniors.

....cherries.cloth.picdrome.6.2011.thmGiven the law of supply n’ demand (See; NCAA), if Carolina can cash-in for Santa Clara gold the debate may be over. Either outcome, run-QB is here to stay.

As T.E. Lawrence might‘ve said, “this is going to be fun.”

 

Super 50 Cherry Pick: Denver Broncos

Record: 104 – 101

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: C.Newton, 9.28.14, wc.cca, K.Allison; Newton, wc.cca, C.Brice, 9.11.11; CircusMaximus, wc, Rome, 8.14.06, G.O’Beirne; CircusMaximus, wc.cca, Rome, 2004, Xeospeed; D.Trevathan, wc.cca, 9.9.12, J.Beall; Newton, wc.cca, 1.26.14, HI, M.Bragg, USArmy; Newton, wc, 7.12.11, sportiqe; P.Manning, 9.14.14, wc.cca, J.Beall; Newton, 2011, wc.cca, Pantherfan11; R.Rivera, wc.cca, Paraglide, 6.10.11; McMahon, Diz28, wc, 1993; Bears, AIoChicago, SenorCodo, wc, 2.19.07; FlashCam, Kodak, 6.15.15, 1950s, J.Haupt, wc; J.Kapp, BC.Lions, VancouverPL, wc, 1960; J.Kapp, EllensburgDaily, wc, 12.26.69; cherries-cloth, picdrome, 2001, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 2.4.16 @ 2:19pm, edit 4:34 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 – SB50: Peyton’s Progress

28 Jan .......Manning,949k.9.14.14.J.Beall.wc.cca

♫ Don’t stop believin’ ♫

For the true football fan, the sort who stays clear of the sabrheaded soothsayer, it’s always the toughest part of predicting game results: separating who you think will win from the who you want to win. For most, that’s easy enough.

But as you get to the nitty-gritty of the NFL spectacle, the playoffs, a greater challenge presents. That’s when the want will bull-rush your brain “like a crazed dog” to take hold of your will and smack it to the ground. It’s a battle, for sure.

.......Pilgrim.Hat.8.16.10.B.Wesley.wc.cca.thmMy own mind-line held off the pressure to cast aside good sense for favorites. You must. Had to throw a few chop-blocks but then my minds-eye is a “wide open” game.

That doesn’t mean I’ve run the table but 7 of 9 (78%) for the post-season ain’t too shabby. It’s a welcome improvement over a middling regular season showing that had hovered around the .500 line-of-despair.

One of my ‘wrong number’ calls was Cards v. Cats.

Some of us figured Newton & Company would cave and failed to give sufficient value to Arizona’s recent troubles. In particular, the thumping Cardinals took at the hands of rival Seattle to close the regular. Injuries take a toll and a top D will force foul-ups (Palmer: 5 TOs).

My other coin-flip came up Broncos.

.....CA.49er.1850.tm.wc.LC.McClureGolden Super Bowl 50, fittingly fixated in California’s gold-rush country, Levi’s field in Santa Clara (2.7.16 / 6:30 CBS), is shaping-up to be another in that emerging line of clash-in-QB-style, i.e., pro pocket-passer versus collegiate flash (run-QB), aka, single-wing tailback (40s).

Same dichotomy as SB47. Defense then showcased like-talents in Lewis (BAL) vs Willis & Bowman (SF). But on offense the clash featured cool as a cucumber Joe Flacco (BAL) and Colin “Kaep Krusader” Kaepernick (SF). Ravens came out on top in a game whose nail-bitter finish (34-31) belied it’s lop-sided nature, up until the lights oddly went out after the lop began siding too much into the 2d half.

It’s a quarterback polarity that figures to become more & more common with run-QB having become the norm on the college scene.

Camster-the-Hamster rushed for over 600 and scampered for 10 pay-dirts (4.8 ypc / 3837p, 35t-10i) in the 2015 campaign that saw Carolina compile a 15-1 mark (See; Chicago ‘85), while his wily opposite in Manning threw wounded-ducks in Joe Kapp fashion to lead Broncs to a 7-2 mark, exited with injury, saw his back-up Osweiler help keep the ship afloat before the vet re-took the reins.

......Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmThe difference in flash form this time around is that Cam, in year five, has more miles on his meter than did Kaep who’d subbed for injured Smith in 2012 and had but ten starts under his belt when he took to the Superdome in SB47.

Now the table’s set for SB50.

But there’s an unexpected guest who seated itself at the Super setting, again (See; Deflategate 2015). And no one, ‘cept naysayers, is smiling.

NFL announced Wednesday that they’ll be looking into report by Al Jazeera (HP) earlier this month contending Manning and other players (Clay Matthews, etc.) procured HGH by way of an Indiana connection in 2011.

I welcome sincere efforts by NFL/PA that works to spot and sanction those who violated the rules and integrity of the NFL presently or in the relevant past.

........Manning.wc.8.26.12.J.Beall.thmAnd I suspect the powers-that-be who initiated this investigation did so after perusing the story’s details and formed a belief that there is valid cause to look further, that the dark cloud hanging over Manning’s and NFL/PA’s heads was already stationary atop and that this announcement might help dissipate the formation. Fine.

And I don’t expect the League to look the other way simply because the story relates to dated events and involves one of the faces of the NFL in Peyton. Their hand was forced, it would seem.

But an announcement that does not include…no, highlight a concomitant, joint effort (player’s union) to put into place for 2016-17, blood-draws of every player in-season (randomness be damned) at optimum testing time to close window of opportunity that remains ajar, makes this effort ring somewhat hollow.

With that as the backdrop, “Mr. Valiant,” Gary Kubiak and Denver’s wagon train of football prowess moves forward with the righteous determination of a pilgrim’s purpose, progressing each day closer to proving they’re the chosen ones to raise the VLT in victory to the sporting gods.

....Pilgrim.exile.MA.1930s.wc.BPL.Smith&Tichnor.thmThe numbers on Peyton Manning since he return to action in week 17 aren’t all that pretty.

His comp-% is fair-to-middling and in 2+ games has thrown two TDs. Peyton’s become a manager-QB, banking heavily on his wherewithal and teammates’ talent more than ever, biding time to shake the rust in what may be his sunset ride. He has a Joe Kapp quality now, guts galore, but with an arm that’s re-written the NFL record book and taken him and his teams to the highest of peaks. Some good signs: No picks and 3 wins.

The Carolina Panthers will be favored in SB50.

They’ve played like a class above. But keep in mind, while the pre-season NFC was seen as the Conference keenest on competition that’s not how it played out.

Expected to be contender laden, most finished around .500. Giants, Dallas, Eagles, Rams, Chicago, New Orleans, Lions, Atlanta all proved pretenders, and those that produced seemed a year off (MIN / DC) while the top dogs all found thorns in their paws along the way. Ouch!

...AFC.Hunt.trophy.2.2.13, A.Kirk,thumbChancellor’s holdout started things wrong for the defending champs who lost key cogs Lynch and super-sub Rawls to injury exits; Packers turned erratic after receiver extraordinaire Jordy Nelson went down; and my tab for NFC topper, AZ, started stout, had a nice win streak but got thumped in W17 (SEA), at home, then too caught the winter injury bug. Not QB Palmer this year but 2/3rds of their run-game and then their Mister defensive do-it-all in safety Tyrann Mathieu.

AFC on the other hand proved more competitive with risers in Houston, KC, the Jets, Pitt, even Oakland and Buffalo making late-season moves. Had Dalton returned for the PS we might be seeing a purrrr-fect Super in Santa Clara.

All this meaning Denver may be more tested, mother approved than their glossy NFC opponent. Since close loses to OAK (14) and Pittsburgh (15), both sans Pey-Dirt, the Broncos have been gutting out wins.

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbOne could interpret that as sign Denver’s just hanging on, ready to topple. But quality of competition is key. Mustangs topped the defending champs, a bit injury-bugged themselves, but still the champs, and a Steelers squad many in media had pegged as the team most likely to rise & surprise. In contrast, Cats clawed a couple of NFC enigmas (SEA / AZ) on their way to the big Circus.

But with a D that’ll go toe-to-toe with Carolina’s formidable force, a run game that motors and O-line that protected no matter who was under center, insert a savvy field general who’s now got a motivating bur-of-investigation under his well worn saddle (See: Pats & Deflategate Feb 2015), and those PVC-producing wins of late might just be signs from above, i.e., a team of destiny, manifestly.

Next week: SB50: Newton’s Laws of Motion and ♫ Rock Your Baby ♫

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: P.Manning, 9.14.14, J.Beall, wc.cca; pilgrim.hat, 8.16.10, B.Wesley, wc; CA-49er, wc, LC.McClure, 1850; C.Newton, 9.28.14, K.Allison, wc; P.Manning, 8.26.12, J.Beall, wc; pilgrim‘s.exile, MA, Smith&Tichnor, BPL, wc, 1930s; AFC.Hunt.trophy, 2.2.13, A.Kirk, wc.cca; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 1.28.16 @ 5:08p EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Conference Cherry Picks: Halas n’ Hunt

22 Jan ......Halas.1922.wc.cca.Therakishfellow.188k

“Do you fear the force of the wind,
The slash of the rain?
Go face them and fight them,
Be savage again.
Go hungry and cold like the wolf,                        5
Go wade like the crane;
The palms of your hands will thicken,
The skin of your cheek will tan,
You ’ll grow ragged and weary and swarthy,
But you ’ll walk like a man!”                                 10

Do You Fear the Wind?, by Hamlin Garland (1860 – 40 (W. Salem, WI)), contemporary audio illustration by J. Facenda, NFL Films

Dichotomy Bowl

Cherry Pick NFCC: Arizona Cardinals

Before big games it’s customary to look for common threads that run between the two opponents, maybe as a proof that there’s a winning template or something of the sort. But as “Donnie Brasco” might’ve said, “forget about it.”

Besides the obvious rare appearance in Conference championship play, memorable 2015 runs and a rare Heisman head-to-head in signal-caller spot, analogies between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers are few & far.

......Rozelle.Halas.80s.J.Summaria.wc.cca.thmCarson and Camster couldn’t be more different in poise (pocket v. run), personality (low-key v. high-flyin’) and roads taken (USC v. Auburn).

To the history buffs this 2016 NFC championship offers up a contrasting pair, pitting one of NFL’s charter-members in the Cardinals, Phoenix being their 3rd stop (CHI ‘20 / STL / AZ), against one of it’s newest clubs, the Carolina Panthers (‘95).

All that variety should help make for a top-notch tussle in Charlotte for Sunday’s Super selection game slotted in the late showing on Fox (1.24 / 6:40 EST).

And the winner can hoist high the coveted George Halas trophy, named in honor of one of the League’s original players (Decatur Staleys), founding fathers (“Papa Bear“) and long-time coach of the Monsters of Midway.

If you think Manning – Brady is big doings, even as Peyton’s embers may burn their final blaze, when you talk about sport rivalries, none was bigger than the Halas – Bears v. Lambeau – Packers – Lombardi battle that rocked back n’ forth for parts of five decades (1920s – 60s). Trophy hogs, these guys were.

.....Arians.9.8.14.wc.thmb.FF.SwamiAnother chasm in claim of commonality between Carolina and the Cards are the differing personalities and résumés of the two head honchos, Bruce Arians (AZ ‘13) and Ron Rivera (CAR ‘11).

You could say the former Hokie’s pathway to his present job took the “Long and Winding Road (‘75 VT / 14 jobs)” while Ron’s, comparatively speaking, is more like ‘the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (‘97 CHI / 5).’

After playing QB at Virginia Tech Arians went straight into coaching while Ron played 9 seasons with Chicago (‘84-95 (LB)) and five years later took a job with the Bears as a defensive coach. Shoot-from-the-hip (Arians) vs calculated (Rivera), Bruce tends towards offense (See Also: Harold Goodwin (OC)) while Ron is, not surprisingly, a defensive specialist (Sean McDermott (DC)).

What’s gotten both teams to the pinnacle of these playoffs is their coaches similar ability to expand their repertoires and fashion success on their lesser sides, with the respective help of top-notch staffers in Carolina’s Mike Shula and Cardinals’ James Bettcher (DC).

.....Rivera.6.10.11.R.Paraglide.wc.thmOf course, both clubs are red-flagging a smidgen.

Playing at home, AZ barely got by GB in the divisional (26-20 OT), Pack not exactly being juggernautious in 2016, while Carolina forgot the realtor’s mantra, ‘always be closing.’ Cats jumped out big against the defending NFC champ ‘Hawks only to invite Swing Time (’36) and see their sizable lead fritter away, lose all scoring punch (0 2H) and escape with the win.

That coach who can best work his left-handed talent, that coaching area to which he was not befitted by a natural inclination, may prove the winner in Sunday’s slugfest between these top dogs who tangled in last season’s WC round where Cats came out on top (27-16) of a Cards team that featured 3rd-stringer Ryan Lindley subbing for Palmer who’d exited late-season with injury.

Continuity Bowl

Cherry Pick AFCC: Denver Broncos

Since 1997 the Patriots and / or Broncos have been represented in the AFC title game fourteen (14) times, Bill Belichick at the helm for ten, with one head-to-head in 2014 (DEN 26-16). A 3-game stretch (2009 – 11) being the longest time w/out either club appearing. Stout stuff, to say the least.

....AFC.Hunt.trophy.2.2.13, A.Kirk,thumbThese franchises are on solid footing, to be sure, thanks to ownerships that have vested fully in success, Patriots Robert Kraft and Broncos’ Bowlen family (‘84) where Pat ran the club until diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014.

It was Bill Parcells who re-awakened New England pro football which hadn’t had a title-test since their crushing loss in SB20 (Bears), in guiding Patriots to SB31 (GB 35-21 (L)), and then Mike Shanahan, building some on Dan Reeves’ work, did the same in Denver where in SB32 John Elway would run & gun the Broncos to their first NFL crown in besting the Green Bay Titletowners, 31-24.

Add in Tom Brady and the near perennial playoffer Peyton Manning and Sunday’s early game (3:05 CBS) at Sports Authority field drips with cachet, if not for the haters, of which both teams and QBs have gaggles.

‘America loves a winner’ someone once quipped but may, in these present times, love even more trying to tear one down.

....Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbWho prevails Sunday at Mile High stadium even has the sporting gods hedging.

Trendy talk says Peyton’s running on fumes with Denver’s home-field and D not enough to deny a Patriots destiny that has confidence of a champion (SB49).

Pragmatists liked what they saw from Denver against Pitt in the divisional (23-16 W). Come-from-behind victories reflect more than “Whew, that was close (Close Encounters ‘75)!”

Against Pittsburgh, Mr. Mustang orchestrated a 65 yard, 14-play drive for the go-ahead TD, took 6+ minutes off the 4Q clock and converts the 2. Holding your pot (defense) and cashing in your opportunities in crunch-time shows a team laden with leadership in any football fan’s book.

....Kubiak.wc.J.Beall.10.5.08.thmExpect New England’s glamour grabbers (Gronk, Edelman) to suit up but they’re still feeling the pain. Patriots’ run game is nearly nil (0) with Blount out and late pickup Jackson’s game looking gone which only puts more pressure on pocket-passer Brady. Whereas, an admittedly lesser Peyton compared to the one who won AFCC in2014, has a more reliable motor-pool in Anderson & Hillman.

And not exactly ‘advantage Denver’ with the likes of Steve Gostkowski kicking well for NE, but watch if it comes down to the leg-men (Ginger Rogers had the best). Broncos’ Brandon McManus went 5-5 v. Pitt and hit a 50+ yarder.

Cheese & Whine: Arizona 26 v Green Bay 20 (OT (NFCD 1.16))

It wasn’t always this way (I lived in Packerland in 70s & 80s), but ever since the good times began “rolling” again at Lambeau (‘92) no franchise, jocks and fans alike, has more consistently served up the ‘whine’ in casks after a defeat, quite like Packer-backers. Unbefitting of this a glory-laden franchise, the gripe-fest has become as standard as the pre-game tailgate (See: Cheese-Melt 2015).

....Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.12.7.8.thmThe Cardinals – Packers game went long (OT) and Aaron Rodgers got the call, heads or tails. Then something unusual happened: Coin no flippy.

Since the NFL rules do not specify necessity for at least one complete rotation of the fly-coin (It will now), referee Clete Blakeman did Pack a solid, his common sense, no doubt, by affording a 2d toss that was not mandated. In effect, Packers got two tries at winning the toss. Not exactly gripe-able.

The reigning MVP has been quoted as saying the ref called “off” the first toss to “avoid the embarrassment.” Hardly, Mr. Double-Flip. My guess is he, as Aaron (“we obviously thought it was unfair”), simply believed a non-flip toss was “not right” nor w/in the spirit of the act, i.e., toss a coin so it rotates to enhance probability of chance for either team to win the side-show (head-tails).

...Favre&Lopez.11.7.08.E.Durie.USN.thmbThere is regulation fairness and there is overtime fairness, a different balance that seeks to afford opportunity (If that’s your defense stopping the opponent’s offense, so be it) while encouraging a conclusion to a game that’s gone long.

Aaron Rodgers may someday equal or surpass his predecessor, the well-decorated ironman, former Wisconsin demi-god but now back in the fold quarterback Brett Favre in key statistics, MVPs and Super Bowl starts, but the Chico, California native will never match the peerless one in style. There is where Brett will always have him beat.

Record: 103 – 100

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Rozelle-Halas, 1980s, wc.cca, J.Summaria; G.Halas, wc, therakishfellow, 1922; B.Arians, wc, 9.8.14, FF.Swami; R.Rivera, wc, 6.10.11, R.Paraglide; AFCC.Hunt.trophy, 2.2.13, A.Kirk, wc; B.Belichick, wc, K.Allison, 8.28.9; G.Kubiak, wc, J.Beall, 10.5.08; A.Rodgers, wc, M.Morbeck, 12.7.8; B.Favre-Lopez, 11.7.8, E.Durie, USN; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 1.22.16 @ 1:31pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Division Cherry Picks: What’s a Leader?

16 Jan .........Peyton_wc.cc_090912_j.beall_flickr

Leaders: They come in all shapes & sizes.

If one trait stood out in the NFL Wild Card weekend, one that separated the mice from the men, it was the importance of having a leadership on your squad, from coaches to players, in skill and sensibility. Of course, lady luck and bad karma had their hands in it, too (See; SEA @ MIN).

........Manning.wc.8.26.12.J.Beall.thmSome wear the regalia of a commander.

Four-star General George S. Patton who led US troops to victory in North Africa (‘42), Sicily (‘43) and the Battle of the Bulge (‘44) in the Western crush of Nazi Germany, wore his medals with pride but was as near as famous for the his loose-tongue and “damn the torpedoes” tactic as he was for the Allied conquests he achieved.

Other chieftains are the stuff of fables.

Though he acted in the enormous shadows of his two famous co-stars, “Buzz (Corey Allen)” from Rebel Without a Cause (‘55) was the proto-typical teen-leader of the angstful 1950s. He had Natalie Woods heart, for a time, kept his kooky crew in check, brought James Dean (“Jamie“) into the fold and then accidentally drove off a cliff.

And people can lead by refusing to act.

.......Parks.wc.1955.USIA.NARA.thmRosa Parks was not an imposing figure at 5’3.” And she wasn’t the first bus-rider to stand (sit) against racial segregation (Rustin-Morgan-Keys-Browder et al). But Civil Rights leaders saw the time was right to test again Constitutionality of Jim Crow and in her the right person to do it in exercising civil disobedience in refusing to cave to command of a Montgomery (Ala) bus-driver to give her seat to a white rider.

And sometimes leadership becomes an excuse.

In wake of Texans thumping at the hands, arms, legs, etcetera of the visiting Chiefs, their quarterback Brian Hoyer (15-34, 0t, 4i) said this in his post-game press conference: “This wasn’t nerves…I wasn’t gonna’ take myself out of the game…that would be a lack of leadership, a cop-out.”

Pluck is admirable but sometimes a leader finds strength to hand over the reins when his way is clearly, not only not getting the job done, but helping list the ship. No shame in occasionally passing the baton, especially when there are back-ups galore (Weeden, etc.). Just another way of ‘taking one for the team.’ And there is where the head coach must lead (See; O’Brien).

Hoyer recovered in closing with, “bad things happen in life. Hopefully I can learn from this.” Hopefully, yes.

.......Watt.9.23.12.J.Beall.thmb.wcHis defensive teammate, national celebrity and Schwarzenegger buddy, J.J. Watt, left the game in the 3rd quarter with injury but didn’t exhibit any better command in post-game questioning.

Reporter: “Does this (loss) take the edge off the season?” “Yes…it’s all about the Super Bowl.” Okay, J.J.

A real leader wouldn’t feel the need to convince fans he really wants the Lombardi. It’s a given. But to devalue the terrific accomplishment Houston worked in an injury-riddled, QB-carousal campaign, to assess a 9-8 record with a mopey mug post-game is not the stuff of staunch to inspire the throngs who cluster near for autographs.

In the other AFC tussle (PIT v CIN) where gloom hung heavy in the loser’s locker-room, a place where leadership or lack thereof will make itself quite evident (explaining a win is easy), the issue of control or lack thereof was top topic.

......Lewis.9.16.13.wc.emeybee.thmThe unsportsmanlike penalties called on Bengals Vontaze Burfict (Brown) and Adam Jones, game-changer plays, raised that never-ending question: How much responsibility does a coach bear in keeping it clean on the field?

Did Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis show sufficient leadership in his manner & means regarding his players on-field behavior? By the same token, did Steelers coach Joey Porter show good example in stepping onto the playing field, putting himself in the middle of the ruckus and becoming a trigger-point?

When you question a coach’s responsibility, think of parenting.

The analogy is not childishness per se, although, anytime anyone willingly veers from responsible behavior it may be deemed immature, but rather, the limits on influence & control, as well as certain duties that are inherent in tutorial ties.

Mom & Dad, guardians, are asked the same sort of question regarding their kids and in turn ask themselves: How much, and then, what exactly can we do to try to ensure our children grow wise and fit-in with the flock?

......Madden.Collins.12.6.07.wc.USGovt.thmTo note, Hall of Fame Raiders’ coach, broadcaster and toy icon, John Madden had a controversial defender on his winning Oakland teams named John “Jack” Tatum. His nickname: “The Assassin.” He worked the NFL gridiron for 10 years, 9 with John, made three Pro Bowls and laid-out Darryl Stingley (NE) on a targeted hit that was so vicious it left the Patriots end paralyzed.

Others showed a natural leadership or one that has grown sure as sun-up with the test of time and many battles fought.

Andy Dalton’s substitute A.J. McCarron, an Alabama champion himself just two years ago, led a late-game drive to put his Bengals ahead only to see it fritter away as two of his ‘mates unraveled. In post-game presser he was dejected but not bitter, refusing to “point fingers” even as the justification was present.

.....Roethlisberger.9.9.12.J.Beall.thmb.wcWhile on the winner’s side, well decorated QB Ben Roethlisberger, having been knocked from the game earlier and, by some reports, spat upon by host fans as he headed to the locker-room for repairs, returned to lead a game-winning drive (FG).

Leaders keep it in-house and “their eyes on the prize.”

Who will step closer to that VLT prize after this weekend’s Divisional games will turn on three keys: Tall talent, little bit o’ luck and loads of leadership. Bank on it.

..cherries.Hispalois.Spain.wc.cc.thmbDivisional Cherry Picks 2016

Chiefs (12-5) @ Patriots (12-4): 1.16 CBS 4:35: Pats win
Packers (11-6) @ Cards (12-4): NBC 8:15: Arizona wins
Seattle (11-6) @ Cats (15-1): 1.17 Fox 1:05: ‘Hawks win
Steelers (11-6) @ Denver (12-4): CBS 4:40: Broncs win

Record: 100 – 99

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: P.Manning, wc.cca, 9.9.12, J.Beall; Manning, 8.26.12, J.Beall, wc; R.Parks, wc, USIA-NARA, 1955; J.J. Watt, wc, J.Beall, 9.23.12; M.Lewis, wc, 9.16.13, emeybee; Collins-Madden, wc, 12.6.7, USGovt; B.Roethlisberger, wc, J.Beall, 9.9.12; cherries, Spain, Hispalois, 7.2.12, wc
Posted: 1.15.16 @ 11:00pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16: Putting the ‘Pro’ Back in the Bowl

13 Jan .....ProBowl.1.27.13.M.Holzworth.USAF.Rudolph.7.2m

Athletic exhibitions: They’ve always been a bit fragile. ¿Por qué?

.....ProBowl.Rudolph.2.17.13.USMC.D.CottonAll Star games, Pro Bowls, Harlem Globetrotters, dunk contests, whatever they’re doing in hockey this year, they’re all born of the coupling of profit & play where the action is most often measured with the result, fun as it can be, pure ephemeralia.

The win-loss won’t go towards a championship tally and then the statistics don’t figure in a team or player’s official totals. That’s not all bad if the particular player tends to wilt under the brighter lights.

Baseball’s version has always been the best. Today that’s only by default.

Former Commissioner and Hall of Famer, Allan “Bud” Selig threw it open to the marketing madmen & women who’ve turned it into a kid’s carnival of sorts, where the muscled Home Run Derby, vestige of the high steroid era (1988-2012), has supplanted the exhibition-game itself as the main event of the 5-day affair.

But it’s long history (1933) does shine with some memorable moments.

....ProBowl.2.17.13.DR.Cotton.thm.USMC.FeltonThe most notable All-Star moments being Carl “King” Hubbell’s (NYG) famous set-down (SO) of five consecutive American League stalwarts in 1934’s edition (Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons & Cronin), Pete Rose’s home-plate “(collision) heard round the (baseball) world” with off-field friend Ray Fosse in the 1970 classic and Bo Jackson’s all-around MVP performance in the ‘89 July jamboree.

The NFL’s version, the Pro Bowl (1.31.16, Honolulu, ESPN, 3pm EST), while having displayed it’s share of memorable battles and terrific individual outputs over the decades has a somewhat less colorful catalog.

That state was predictable from the get-go in that the game is held post regular season when fans and players alike have had their fill of football and baseball is beginning to warm-up in southern climes.

The contest had muddled along, giving players, coaches and families a fun winter get-away and fans a casual Sunday afternoon of viewing. Expectations real.

....ProBowl.Fargo.Gonzalez.Vitale..2.13.5.USN.McGinley.thmBut that wasn’t enough for today’s non-sporting market executive who will squeeze dimes like Mr. Whipple used to lovingly squeeze Charmin® toilet rolls.

Through the fiddling of NFL office and Player Assoc‘n personnel, the exhibition has devolved into a spiritless, poorly organized walk-through that has little meaning for anybody, except a handful of dime collectors.

If it continues down this dreary pathway where former players (Rice – Irvin) choose up sides like an ego-laden pick-up game, it might just as well die a certain death with a modicum of dignity rather than continue along brain-dead, as it were, on rickety life-support. In its present state, if the Pro Bowl were to vanish tomorrow the news would barely make a ripple in the media pond.

To halt the Pro Bowl‘s steady decline, 3 restoration points are key:

1) Post-Super Bowl play-date

....ProBowl.Samuels.Albright.Keating.USDD.J.Foehl.thm.2.10.8For most of this decade the game has been sandwiched in that 2-week period between Conference championships and the Super Bowl. Doing so of course excludes any reps from the two best teams. This has to change. Fans & marketers both want to celebrate in the champion’s victory and the Pro Bowl is (was) a highlighter.

While neither of the Super squads may include the regular MVP or DPOY, both are certain to be laden with All-Pro players & celebs whose championship status is sorely missed at the big exhibition, making it’s substance ebb lower.

2) Restore official status: AFC v. NFC

As it stood, exhibitions didn’t factor into stat lines or W-L but they were official exhibitions. That’s something. Goes to substance and quality of product.

Now it’s just a muscled sandlot set-up (no conferences) with low loyalty and potential player cliques that fans will unlikely ever warm to. A degree of serious-ness must be restored or the few fans still watching will seriously stop.

3) Restore uniform continuity

Designs by Nike that change with the wind don’t build the NFL brand. Even the kids, their target-market, tire of too much trend while their big brothers and the neighborhoods only snicker at the mindless consumerism.

Logos & uniforms never top the list of League issues, but maybe they should this year, or somewhere near. It’s the merchandise that fans purchase and uniforms identified-with on TV that bind them to their teams and to the sport during and after the season’s play has ended.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: ProBowl, wc, Rudolph, 1.27.13, USAF, M.Holzworth; ProBowl, Rudolph, wc, 2.17.13, D.Cotton, USMC; ProBowl, wc, Felton, 2.17.13, D.Cotton; ProBowl, wc, Fargo-Gonzalez-Vitale, 2.13.5, USN, McGinley; ProBowl, wc, Samuels-Albright-Keating, J.Foehl, DoD, 2.10.8; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.cca.
Posted: 1.13.16 @ 2:35pm, edit 4:21 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Wild Cherry Picks: Veni, Vidi, Vici

8 Jan ....Caesar.wc.711k.AVDomaszewski.1914

‘I came, I saw, I conquered’

The NFL playoffs.

They mark a new beginning in the championship campaign of conquest, a whole new season, in fact (0-0), and you could even say afford an extension of the holiday season if your team happens to get its ticket punched.

....winter.wood.2007.wc.NinoBarbieri.thmIt’s when the crème de la crème get mettle tested by the fiercest foes and not infrequently the worst weather Mother Nature can doll out (See; SEA @ MIN (-0°?)).

For the player, his body tells him it’s time to settle for winter, catch up on sleep, reacquaint w/friends & family, read the mail, walk the dog, anything but more football. But the contract, bills to be paid and desire to be the best drive him onward in hopes of greater glory.

Which team can prove Julius Caesar, conqueror of the vast playoff landscape of combatants that lay ahead?

Some teams clearly have a leg up on the competition in weaponry, positioning and the art of field tactics & technique.

....RomanLegion.wc.StoriadItalia.1979.Mainz.tmHome-field and 1st-Rd byes, deserved as it they are, give a decided advantage. And while all 12 invitees are endowed with the spirit and physical skills to take the VLT (Vince Lombardi trophy), only a handful are cloaked in that garb of destiny.

Panthers at 15-1 and bye-ing time to polish their armaments and fine-tune strategy look best suited to wear the victor‘s laurel. But their lack of battlefield experience (1-2 Rivera – Newton – Kuechly) and atypical command tactic (Camster-the-Hamster (run-QB)) makes them a questionable conqueror.

In Mark Antony fashion, Seattle sent strong message to Arizona (36-6) that they are not ready to relinquish their tight hold on National Conference supremacy.

And Caesar Augustus that rules from New England always shapes the map.

Roll Call

Patriots: Coach (Bill), player (Tom) and sports success story of 2015, injuries all around are taking heavy toll on the Empire as the ranks are in depletion.

Seahawks: The thumping they gave rival & riser AZ, run-game modifications that work and 3-year playoff prowess all make them NFC’s team-to-beat;

....Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.08.thumbPackers: Early loss of catch-machine Nelson was either underestimated or has proven a too frustrating fill-in. Mobility & quick-release are Rodgers’ keys.

Broncos: Pey-Dirt’s back in the saddle and will be given ample opportunity to work off rust and find the end-zone;

Steelers: Trademark Steelers D must’ve run afoul of Patent Office politics and been revoked because it’s been lesser in 2015 (#21 / 11). And with Williams hobbled, Big Ben must, as he often does, carry offensive load;

Panthers: Cats are 1-2 in recent PS and have not faced the toughest of slates. Keeping Cam pocket poised or letting him rabbit-at-will is Rivera’s big call.

Chiefs: Like Cats, another so-so slate but KC too balances like a top (O/D) and QB Smith looks for his first Super (10y) after 2012’s chance slipped away (SF).

....Dalton.wc.emeybee.9.17.13.thmBengals: The monkey on Cincy’s back is so big (PS 0-5 Lewis) it could buckle their collective knees if they fall behind in early going but this year’s squad has a cool confidence and determination that bodes well.

Vikings: “Baby It’s Cold Outside (Loesser)” is theme in Land of 10.000 (frozen) Lakes. Good thing it’s a 1:00 start. Will Peterson’s back injury warm and can 2y-QB Teddy move-the-chains and forge TDs to match a potent ‘Hawks offense?

Redskins: NFC Cinderella favorite for NFL’ers who appreciate commercial art and history (See; logo). Run-game quirky but hosting befuddled GB a blessing.

Texans: AFC’s underdog favorite for having turned injury-lemons into lemonade. Coach O’Brien, JJ Watt and their QB crew now seek February champagne.

Cardinals: Were on the march until Seahawks stymied. Bruce Arians is not one to panic nor placate his troops so expect a donnybrook in divisional.

....cherries.B.Kua.wc.cca.thumb.6.1.08

Wild Cherry Picks 2016

Chiefs (11-5) @ Texans (9-7): 1.9 ESPN 4:35: KC wins
Steelers (10-6) @ Bengals (12-4): CBS 8:15: Cincy wins
Seattle (10-6) @ Vikes (11-5): 1.10 NBC 1:05: Hawks win
Pack (10-6) @ ‘Skins (9-7): Fox 4:40: Green Bay wins

Record: 97 – 98

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Julius.Caesar, wc.cca, AV.Domaszewski, 1914; winter.wood, wc, Nino.Barbieri, 07; RomanLegion, StoriadItalia, 1979, wc, Mainz; Packers.cheer, wc, M.Morbeck, 9.26.10: A.Rodgers, wc, 2008, M.Morbeck; A.Dalton, wc, 9.17.13, emeybee; cherries, B.Kua, wc, 6.1.8; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 1.8.16 @ 3:06pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Minute Waltz: Closing Take 2015

6 Jan ....O'Brien.8.9.12.wc.BenJones88.827k

Now that the 2015 curtain’s come down on NFL’s regular play, a four-month run filled with more surprises than a Christmas day at the Cratchit household, (post-raise), it’s time to reflect back on the good, bad, the happy & sad.

R.I.P. “NFL Scoreboard”

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbTo kick-off coverage of early action on NFL Network (1:00 EST), a scoreboard format, featuring 6-8 games at one time, offered an oasis, a sanctuary for those who love everything football offers in highlights, sensible stats, clear, clever & concise radio commentary and a minimum of commercial interruptions.

But sadly, Scoreboard is no more.

In their finite wisdom (Sorry, but I‘m steamed), the Suits & Skirts at NFLN opted in 2015 to perpetuate the tired trend (See; Disney et al) in walkie-talkie, where a host (or ‘tess) toggles takes, usually standing, from former footballers on games-in-progress. Yippee.

A reversion back to the scoreboard format won’t ever happen. TV does not improve today. But I’ll always have my memories of how good NFL coverage could be. Like Fred sang it so long ago, “♫ No no, they can’t that away from me ♫ (Shall We Dance (Gershwin ’37)). No they cannot.

Green Bay Packers

....McCarthy.wc.cca.8.11.7.TJ.Grant.thmLosing at Lambeau to their biggest rival to close the regular (It ain’t da’ Bears), letting the North slip through their green & yellow sticky-gloves on a night the Vikes’ QB couldn’t crack a 100 (99, 0-1) and All-Day only made it part-way (67y), does not bode well for the playoffs nor Mike McCarthy’s Fox Valley future.

New York Giants

Whomever’s responsible for the long-running deficiencies in defense and run, that person(s) (Mara, Tisch or Reese?) should give up the calling. If that’s Tom Coughlin, his exit makes sense. If it’s not, his exit still makes sense, for it was unlikely the 2-time winning (& weary) Super Bowl coach would’ve been given much more to work with, regardless.

When eligible, Tom should be Cantonized, no matter the result of any future gig. Quickly turning an expansion (Jags) into a contender and besting one of the top teams to ever lace ’em up (Patriots), twice, in bringing two NFL championships to the Metropolis is Hall-worthy. But at near 70, golf may be his game

Miami Dolphins

There are valid reasons for not re-investing in an interim coach (Mularkey (TN 2-7); Campbell (MIA 5-7, fired) but I’d not use W-L records as the sole basis. Taking reins from a fired former (Philbin – Whisenhunt, both questionable moves at the time) in-season is insufficient test of a man’s leadership and planning ability.

Given Miami’s tumultuous times of late, and a pretty nifty win over rival powerhouse Patriots in the closing contest, staying with Dan Campbell for at least another season seemed a prudent course. So much for prudence.

Cool Quarterback Continuity

....O'Brien.8.9.12.wc.BenJones88.thmHistory shows QB platoons can work (old Rams) but what happened in Houston in 2015 may be unprecedented in the near 100 years of NFL annals (1919). What Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien and OC George Godsey worked is something of a teensy-weensy miracle: Making the post-season (9-7) on the leadership of four different starting QBs, all having snagged a win to help the effort.

The four links in the chain-of-victory: Hoyer (5-4), Mallet (1-3), Yates (2-0) and Cowboys’ cast-off, Weeden (1-0). Kudos, relay-men.

Not Like This, We Didn’t

For those who remember George Allen and his Fearsome Foursome, early Eric Dickerson and even a few old-timers who can recall the glory days of Van Brocklin & Waterfield calling the signals, the return of the NFL to Los Angeles seemed a good idea long in coming.

But not like this, it didn’t. Uprooting established clubs and leaving fan-bases out in the cold was not how we envisioned the LA addition to the NFL family of franchises, Misters Goodell and Smith.

Rams return to their 2d home (CVD-LA-STL) has plausibility but charter AFL’ers the Bolts belong in San Diego as do Raiders in Oakland, just as much as Packers belong in Green Bay and Vikings in Minneapolis.

Ownerships of the Chargers, Raiders and Rams have all reportedly this week applied for the job in Los Angeles. Whoopty friggin’ do.

“Surprise, surprise!”

Chip Kelly firing (26-21 (PS 2 of 3y)):

The Murray (3.6) signing for big bucks that only a Dickerson-like résumé should support, putting one too many ‘cooks in the backfield kitchen,’ plus the odd QB exchange with St. Louis for talented but oft-injured Sam Bradford (Kolb) were wild dice rolls that came up snake-eyes. The problem: Owner Jeff Lurie and club President Don Smolenski had their hands on one of those dice.

Chuck Pagano contract ext’n (41-23 (PS 3 of 4y)):

One .500 season (8-8) in amongst three double-digit years is not necessarily cause for change, but Pagano’s failure to even consider keeping his resurgent 17-yr substitute QB in Matt Hasselbeck (5-3) in starter‘s role upon Luck’s healthy return, flying in the face of mojo, couldn’t have helped Colts’ moral, not Matt’s, anyway, and calls into question coach’s appreciation for the spirit of sport.

NaVorro Bowman

....Bowman.wc.9.8.13.D.Hartwig.thmHaving sat for all of 2014 regular in recuperation by repair of a torn ACL, the 49ers All-Pro linebacker returned to a different 49ers’ team in 2015, from staff (Tomsula) to co-workers (Willis retire). No matter, for NaVo took up right where he’d left off: top-notch tackle-machine, leading the NFL in solos (116) and combo (154) and aught win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor over surging sack specialist, J.C. Watt.

Dousing Dilemma in Denver and Cincy

Mustangs understudy Osweiler played like a pro (5-2) and will have his day in the sun (& snow) again but is a work-in-progress and likely did not exhibit enough natural inclination to matriculation to win total trust of team & staff where a healthy Pey-Dirt stands on the sideline. His first stalled drive and eyes would be turning to the old war horse. Of course, it’s fair to write, if Manning stalls those eyes will be turning Brock’s way just as likely, though not as quickly.

Same holds true for fill-in signal-caller A.J. McCarron in the Queen City. The former collegiate champion (Ala.) similarly performed in admirable fashion (2-1)) but a fit Andy Dalton, even at 0-4 in playoff games, gets the no-brainer nod.

The PED Monster

Reporting last week, Al Jazeera attempted to tie one of the faces of the NFL, Peyton Manning, to the use of PEDs (HGH) by way of mailings he supposedly received at his home addressed to his wife Ashley from an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis in 2011.

Though the report would seem to cry out for clarification and possible corroboration or disproving of claims and may trigger legal actions in libel or defamation, it has a small upside: It shines a necessary light on NFL/PA’s poor PED-prevention policy that leaves wide open window of opportunity (invite) to those who cheat the game, fans and themselves with HGH and the like.

Goodell, like Manfred, must use his bully-pulpit and press union leadership (DeMaurice Smith) to in turn to press player membership to vote to close that window tight (in-season blood draws for every…rostered…player), once and for all. “Build (a movie (“concussions”)), and they will (listen)?” Denzel Washington, Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Joe Pesci & Angela Bassett could all star.

As to the report, too soon for this reader to vest, up or down. I’d let this soufflé sit for a time, see if it stands or sinks. More facts is always “a good thing.”

MVP 2015

......Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmThe Cam campaign would look now to be set to pop those champagne corks 2.6.16, in celebration of taking home the MVP trophy, though, no bubbly for Mr. Newton if he and his Cats are still vying for the VLT.

It would be a deserved awarding for Newton but with timely assists from fellow QBs and former leaders in Brady and Palmer whose pedestrian play in closing, along with the traditional voter bias for offense (See; defenders N. Bowman & R. Jones), opened the door for Cam’s probable first win of the honor.

Rushing stats must be assessed with a different eye where QBs (single-wing tail back) are concerned, even a deduction of points on the rabbit-habit (vs mobility (Wilson, Young, Tark)). It will too often leave the field general’s mind wanting in the clutch, as recent times have shown (See; Kaep (SB47 & NFCC14)).

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: B.O’Brien, wc, BenJones88, 8.9.12 ; NFL-symbol, wikiproject; M.McCarthy, wc, 8.11.7, TJ.Grant; N.Bowman, wc, D.Hartwig, 9.8.13; C.Newton, 9.28.14, wc, K.Allison; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc
Posted: 1.6.16 @ 1:36pm EST; Copyright © 2016

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