Tag Archives: Indianapolis Colts

NFL17 Pre-Play: Bloom Is Off But Arians Still In League’s Elite Coach Class

5 Sep

NFL 2017 head coach ranking with Bruce Arians of Arizona Cardinals @ #5:

1) Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
2) Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
3) Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
4) John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
5) Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

— — —

It was a rough 2016 for the Arizona Cardinals and their 5th-yr HC Bruce Arians who still gets mentioned when the NFL’s best are bantered about.

Arians must be a firm believer in aberration, i.e., an unpleasant deviation from the norm. He HAS to be because he won’t, he CAN’T believe that his fairly talent-laden NFC West squad would again lay an egg like they did in NFL 2016 when, in oppposite of many favorable prognostications by fans & press and general roster health they finished a disappointing 7-8-1. Eek.

Progression can be a wonderful thing. From it will spring forth hopes, learning experiences and maybe, just maybe, a 5-year, $25M ($15M guaranteed) contract with a nice buyout clause ($7.5M). Maybe.

I don’t know how the Paterson, New Jersey native’s, who is set to turn 65 in October (10.3.52), contract with owner Bill Bidwell reads but given his former progression, its terms are most likely fair & balanced to both sides.

The problem with progression is that any sudden halt in one’s steady forward progress and it can be bone-jarring. Ouch!

— — —

Beginning his coaching career at Virginia Tech in 1975 as a graduate assistant, Bruce didn’t get his first top NFL gig until late in the game at age sixty when he took over as Indianapolis interim for the ailing Chuck Pagano who was out in cancer treatment (2012) and proceeded to win the first of his two AP-COY awards (+ 2014). In 2013 he took the reins at Arizona and kept winning, going 34-14, a total that excludes his 9-3 Colts mark (11-5), W-L numbers diverted to Pagano‘s career tally by NFL’s record keepers.

2012: Colts 9 – 3
2013: Cards 10 – 6
2014: Cards 11 – 5
2015: Cards 13 – 3
2016: Cards 7 – 8 – 1

Odd as Arizona’s 2016 devolution, odder still was that it happened even as there were some quite notable individual and team bright spots.

Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, the Bengals’ 1st-Rd draftee out of USC in 2004, appeared to’ve fully recovered from his 2014 knee injury, making fifteen starts and putting up reasonable if not great numbers.

Career-long Card and another 04 draftee in receiver Larry Fitzgerald had his eight 1000-yd season in 2016, surpassing the 100 career total in TDs (104).

On defense, Arizona sported a double-digited sack-duo in linebackers Markus Golden (12.5 / tie 3rd) and Chandler Jones (11 / 8th). Not how I’d use my main-defenders (sacks) but it got the job done in part as AZ’s defense ranked a spiffy #2 in yapg (305 (301 HOU)) but a so-so #14 in papg at 22.6 (15.6 NE).

The brightest spot was rising star and MVP candidate (I had him #2 heading into W17), running-back / receiver David Johnson, the 2nd-year man out of Northern Iowa who ran for 1239 (+ 16td), caught 80 passes for 879 yards (+ 4td) and led the League with 20 pay-dirts in total.

Some small comfort for Arians & Crew may’ve been the fact that 2016 was, as Winston Churchill put it in describing the Soviet Union circa 1939, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” especially in the ho-hum NFC which may help to account for this prognosticator’s worst effort to date.

In the American, surprise disappointments were the Jets (10-6 (15) > 5-11 (16)), the Ravens (10-6 (14) > 5-11 > 8-8 (16)) and the Bengals (12-4 (15) > 6-9-1 (16)) who were expected to contend and then, of course, el-foldo come playoffs.

In the NFC, Cards and defending Halas hoisters, Carolina, were favored to shine but stumbled in start and never recovered; Seattle didn’t find the fierceness and only Atlanta & GB looked worthy of taking on New England. And if you thought Dallas (13-3) was the real-deal with the rookies, you don’t watch much NFL.

Will Arizona rebound in 2017? League’s looking pretty pathetic these days, bound to get worse with the art of tackling fading fast and flash-QB filling the ranks, meaning, any team with pro talent in key positions, and that means AZ, should have a good shot a taking the Hunt or Halas trophy come January.

StevenKeys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-sign, wikiproject; B.Arians, G.Skidmore, 8.5.16, Glendale, wc; L.Fitzgerald, wc, Al-Anbar, Al-Asad, USO, 3.8.09, Cpl-J.Hernandez, Cpt-J.Daniels; Arians, 3.22.17, DoC, T.LaRussa, G.Skidmore; Topps, J.Otto, 1970
Posted: 9.5.17 @ 4.28pE; Copyright © 2017

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NFL15 Cherry Picks W13: “Importance of Folly”

3 Dec

Go With Mojo

Sport fan that I am you’d think on turkey day I’d be glued to the tube (we’re not on the plasma-screen, yet) devouring the Cats-Cowboys contest before it got gamy (33-14), which was before Romo suffered a re-break of his clavicle. Poor guy. But like “Chet” said (Monte Walsh ‘70), “no one gets to be a Cowboy forever.” Ain’t it the truth.

Instead, I was tuned to TCM where they were running a family festival of flicks.

.......Taylor.1956.Giant.611k.thmThe players: 1940s #1 box-office draw Mickey Rooney (“Mi”) as ex-jockey wayfarer turned trainer, adorable Liz Taylor as wisp of a girl (“Velvet Brown”) who rides “the Pie,” blossoming beauty Angela Lansbury (“Edwina”) and veteran character actors Reginald Owen, Arthur Treacher (race patron), Arthur Shields and Anne Revere and Donald Crisp as the sage & certain “Brown” parents. Oh yeah, and least I forget, little Jackie Jenkins (“Donald”), the bug collector.

A movie with more wit & wisdom you will never find. If you’ve of a warming heart and sporting blood, this one’s for you.

Clarence Brown (director), Pandro Berman (producer) and Helen Deutsch (writer) packed this 2-hr beauty with enough practical proverbs, humor and heart-tugging tension to hold the interest of everyone but especially those who have ever lovingly engaged a “folly” in the dream to become a champion.

Not one to spoil an ending, suffice to say that Velvet and her “Sussex” stallion-in-spirit, the “Pie,” short for “murderous pirate,” an off-the-cuff remark made by its frustrated prior owner, give viewers what is arguably the greatest race in all of moviedom, chariot (Ben-Hur (‘59)) and car cruises (Bullitt (‘68)) included.

.......Revere.1947.wc.thm.Gentlemen'sVelvet personified the best of sport: An unflinching dedication, respect for the time & effort needed to achieve a champion’s end and most important of all, a full vesting of emotions, including an unabashed admission of the need for “glory” that only “folly” fulfills, this last trait inherited from “Mrs. Brown” who was herself imbued with spirit to compete, having swum “the Channel” in her youth.

If you don’t think emotion, heart, is central to sport, you don’t belong, not on the field, anyway. Probably wouldn’t do to have you in with the Suits & Skirts, either.

Lombardi said it, when you enter the world of sport you “bring your emotions with you.” Include in there having a good “cry” sometimes, too (Time 3/70).

Others don’t see it that way.

To them, the spectacle of sport is viewed through eye of an actuarial, calculating gains and risks as an insurance agent drafts a policy. Emotion? Only as necessary.

Enter Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach. The Chuckster is in a bit of a sticky-wicket.

......Pagano.wc.8.20.09.K.Allison.thmHis starry young QB Andy Luck (35-20 (’12); 3-3 PS) struggled (2-5) this topsy-turvy 2015 and is set to return from a kidney hurt sometime soon, likely displacing veteran Matt Hasselbeck (205-156 (’99)), even as the former Super signal-caller (40: SEA (L v PIT)) has steadied the listing ship that was Indy earlier in the campaign by leading Colts in four victories and back into the mix.

If those numbers weren’t enough to get you behind Matt Hasselbeck, read on:

1) Nothing alters Luck’s status as Colts’ future, not even were Hasselbeck to lead Indy to SB50. Matt’s playing superbly but at 40 is playing out his string;

2) Andrew can be inserted anytime, if Matt loses the magic or suffers injury; and

3) Don’t mess with mojo. ‘If it works (and current guy got the machine running) don’t fix it.’ This had been a prevailing maxim and seems so in Denver where the Brock v Peyton debate rages. But then today’s drive to youthenize can work a double-std: Matt will likely be benched, Brock will play on.

Becher’s Brook

Soon into National Velvet the viewer learns of a hazard of hedges & trench in the handicap steeplechase known as “Becher’s Brook.” It can make mice of men and break beast of body & mind. As such, Mickey does his best to prepare his charge and her ride for the tough test that lies ahead. Both prove up to the task.

And it’s at this holiday stage in NFL’s course that every contender team should be asking themselves, ‘What Becher’s Brook lay ahead in our own pathway to glory?’ What major obstacle must each team overcome to get their ticket punched for that trip to Santa Clara (SB50) come February?

Fine lines: Every contender aught gage & wage the men-in-the-trenches. All good things come to those who control the line of scrimmage.

Split-the-Uprights: Grand National (1839) pre-dates US ‘ball (1869 (Wikipedia)), but the kicking-game’s been key from get-go, preceding forward pass by 30 years. Many a game comes down to a FG and practice makes perfect

Green Bay: Fill Jordy Nelson void. Not since 1930s could a 7-4 GB squad be underdog vs 4-7 Lions team. Worm turned? More like, Back to the Future..Shock.

Chicago: Sporting gods are having a ball in 2015, inviting Halas to join the fun (GB), yet wouldn’t take the founder’s call vs Denver (failed 2-pt’er (17-15)). Bears, like Vikes, need to score more points (21 (#24)) and hope Forte has another gear

......Viktor.11.7.10.wc.thm.MN-NG.2Minnesota: Seattle is a Certified Mettle Match but Green Bay (@ 1.3) is the Vikings’ litmus test

Indianapolis: Luck-on-return v. Hotter-than-pistol Hasselbeck

Denver: Brock v Peyton: Mustangs were 7-2 under Manning. The 2 Ls, nail-bitter (@ IND) and hobble City (KC). 7-2 this sorry NFL season is near champion

Seattle: Don’t scoreboard-watch (AZ), just keep doing what you’re doing

Arizona: Keep protecting Carson (17sk), blocking for David ‘Stiff Arm’ Johnson who’ll need to step up and try to get kicker Catanzaro more tries from 50+ (0-1).

Tampa Bay: Giving up too many points (25.4 (#25))

Atlanta: Getting next win (@ TB) could turn tide, Ryan avoiding INTs (12), return of healthy Freeman and the kicker spot settled are all brooks to breach

.....Stafford.wc.8.20.15.K.Allison.thmb.Detroit: Must send Green Bay packing (12.6), again, and the mojo will mushroom. More run-game would help.

Carolina: Tune out the naysayers, believe it’s earned (11-0) and Camster-the-Hamster needs to cut down on the rabbit

NFC East: Giants, Redskins and Eagles all must work to find consistency…somewhere, somewhere, sometime.

Kansas City: Like Lions, besting their long time rival (@ OAK) is a booster, QB Smith keeps playing his game and like many clubs, get more from the RBs

Oakland: Tough slate, and like TB, defense needs to catch-up to the offense

Houston: QB carousel (Hoyer+) and need more run (5td), but if Texans win 2 of next 3, chances for playoff slot are good

Cincinnati: Don’t look to the playoffs, spell Dalton’s arm with more run-game and try to get Nugent (K) some 50+ tries (0-0).

.....Roethlisberger.9.9.12.J.Beall.thmb.wcPittsburgh: Big Ben’s health overrides all which makes DeAngleo Williams contribution a key component

New York Jets: Another rival match-up (@ NYG) that sets the tone for the stretch run in a season where playoff spots are there for the taking

Buffalo: Like the Falcons, a win this Sunday could improve the outlook greatly for the remaining slate is not the toughest

New England: Protect Brady (25sk), catch his passes and hope to see NYG

The Human League

As November turns to December the whine-fest continues. Burp.

....ref.NFL.Cheffers.wc.2013.royalbroil.WI.thmThe bash of NFL officials goes on as the bullies get drunk on sour grapes & self-love. And sadly, NFL knee-jerks scramble to appease (“Report: Officiating Crew“ / SI.com / 12.1.15).

NFL referees, like baseball umpires, are the go-to whipping boys (now a few girls to feel the pain) for faux-fan scribes & sportscasters who groove on the gripe and fans who drink it in till their bellies fill, neither knowing when to say ‘when.’

Between the cry-babies, Chicken Littles and cluckheads who fear for profits, none of ‘em will cork-it until the human element is removed entirely from our tumultuous merriments and turned into video games where software kids decide the fates, who wins, who loses. Then they’ll gripe some more. Ugh.

..cherries.Hispalois.Spain.wc.cc.thmb

Cherry Picks Week 13

Pack (7-4) @ Lions (4-7); 12.3 CBS 8:25: GB wins
Jets (6-5) @ NYG (5-6); 12.6 CBS 1:00: Giants win
Cards (9-2) @ Rams (4-7); Fox 1:00: Arizona wins
Atlanta (6-5) @ Bucs (5-6); Fox 1:00: Falcons win
SEA (6-5) @ MIN (8-3); Fox 1:00 (GTW): Hawks win
49ers (3-8) @ Chicago (5-6); Fox 1:00: Bears win
Texans (6-5) @ Bills (5-6); CBS 1:00: Houston wins
Bengals (9-2) @ CVD (2-9); CBS 1:00: Cincy wins
Chiefs (6-5) @ Raiders (5-6); CBS 4:05; Kansas City wins
Denver (9-2) @ Chargers (3-8); CBS 4:05: San Diego wins
Eagles (4-7) @ New England (10-1); Fox 4:25: Patriots win
Carolina (11-0) @ New Orleans (4-7); Fox 4:25: Saints win
Colts (6-5) @ Pitt (6-5); NBC 8:30 (GTW2): Steelers win
Dallas (3-8) @ Redskins (5-6); 12.7 Disney 8:30: DC wins

Record: 62 – 63

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: National-Velvet, MGM, wc.cca, 1945, NBoRM; E.Taylor, 1956, Giant, wc; A.Revere, 1947, Gentlemens-Agreement, wc; C.Pagano, 8.20.09, K.Allison, wc; National-Velvet, MGM, wc.cca, 1945, NBoRM; Viktor, 11.7.10, wc, MN-NG; M.Stafford, 8.20.15, K.Allison, wc; B.Roethlisberger, 9.9.12, J.Beall, wc; NFL-referee, Cheffers, 2013, WI, royal broil, wc; Cherries, Hispalois, Spain, 7.2.12, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 12.3.15 @ 6:03pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15-W5 Minute Waltz: Air of Invincibility

13 Oct

Amongst superstitious types, and those camped outside the grounds where millions of Tom Brady bivouacs still set-up in support of their hero awaiting final court ruling on Deflategate, there was to be no mention of even the possibility of the 2015 New England Patriots once again (‘07) running-the-table in a regular season of NFL football fun & frolic.

So I shan’t.

But there’s no mistaking the air of invincibility the defending champs exude each time they step onto the gridiron or take to mike after one of their cake-walk wins.

Maybe a bit like Patton & Co. must’ve displayed in ‘45 after they finished rolling over the remaining resilient but desperate remnants of the Axis army like it was nobody’s business, except Monty (Brits) to the West and Russkies to the East.

.....Brady.8.28.09.K.Allison.wc.cca.DC.thmbThat might be putting too fine & dramatic a point on it but the New Englanders, their coach Bill Belichick and not-out-of-the-legal-woods-quite-yet QB in Brady made what had been thought a pretty fair opponent in hosting Dallas Cowboys look like flavorless mince-meat on Sunday afternoon (30-6). They face but three (IND, NYG & DEN), maybe four (NYJ (3-1)) semi-imposing road contests the rest of the way.

Some are losing that air of élan in their game balls like they had been man-handled by an over-zealous, needle-happy NFL referee with too much Deflategate on the brain, i.e., Seattle, Saints, Lions, Ravens, etcetera.

But there’s alot of football still left in this 2015 regular season.

All any team has to do is get in (the playoffs). After that it’s anybody’s VLT (Vince Lombardi Trophy) for the taking. One caveat: Those who do make it into Phase II dread like a doctor’s visit having to go through one of those teams that sports that imposing look of invincibility.

Invincibility Meter: 1 = nope, 10 = money-in-the-bank

New England: 7.5
Arizona: 7: Rams (W4 24-22 L) can bring out the worst in opponents;
Cincinnati: 6.5: Gotta’ make more amends given Marvin’s 0-6 playoff mark;
Green Bay: 6: That 2Q (STL) was shaky and sad NFCN won’t test any mettle;
Atlanta: 6: Dan ‘Mighty’ Quinn had Falcons believing and winning ugly if need be;
Denver: 5.5: Looked shaky all afternoon versus Oakland…Oakland;
Carolina: 5: Ws versus Jags, Texans, Saints & Bucs, but most were Luke-less.

‘If it works,…’

The old field general Matt Hasselbeck (2-0 / 63.2) has been ably holding down the (Indianapolis) fort in absence of injured starter, Andy Luck (shoulder).

Nobody on planet Earth would dare suggest that the 17-year vet and 3-time Pro Bowler assume the starter’s role once Andy gets the all-clear, even as he looks to’ve been the sparkplug for the Colts’ jump-start.

But consider me a ‘nobody’ on this big rock in space. Point being, I’d leave Matt in the starter’s role: ‘If it works, (keep your hands off) and don‘t try to fix it.’

Colts were off kilter when Luck went out. It’s fair to write that, while their resurgence is of course not entirely due to Hasselbeck, he is the one who’s been at the helm while other contributors (Gore (22-98-1t), D’Qwell (8t-3a), etc.) have been helping to get this thing turned around.

Everyone knows Luck is the Colts’ future. He may be a great one someday, is a darn good one now. But if the Sporting Gods are pleased, you don’t want to get ‘em riled, you don’t wanta’ rock their winged-chariot, Mr. Pagano. Get it?

Andy will be happy to sit tite for the team and let the good times keep rolling. He knows he’ll be back in the saddle soon enough.

And for all the gripe on Miami’s owner this week (Ross), there’s been noticeably little on Texans cufflink crew (McNair, Rootes & Smith). Could argue this franchise has been trending for trouble since 2013 and the bail on QB Schaub.

Good Spots (W5)

Pitt offense: Tied or took lead 3x to a SD road-win (24-20)
Le’Veon Bell (PIT) RB: 21-111, 1t
Antonio Gates (SD) TE: 9-92, 2
Brian Hoyer (HOU) QB: 24-31, 312, 2-1
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) WR: 11-169
Colin Kaepernick (SF) QB: 23-35, 262, 2; just 3c-23y. Poise-ing
Eli Manning (NYG) QB: 41-54, 441, 3-1, GWD
Odell Beckham (NYG) WR: 7-121, 1
Tom Brady (NE) QB: 20-27, 275, 2t
Julian Edelman (NE) WR: 4-120, 1
Darren McFadden (DAL) RB: 9r-62, 5c-16
Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) WR: 9-111
Chris Johnson (AZ) RB: 11-103
Carson Palmer (AZ) QB: 11-14, 161, 3t
Theo Riddick (DET) RB: 10-53, 1t
Blake Bortles (JAX) QB: 23-33, 303, 4t-1i
Doug Martin (TB) RB: 24-123, 2t, 3r-35, 1t
Willie Snead (NO) WR: 6-141 (59)
Devonta Freeman (ATL) RB: 27-153, 1
Josh McCown (CVD) QB: 36-51, 457, 2
Justin Forsett (BAL) RB: 21-121, 1
Gary Barnidge (CVD) TE: 8-139, 1
Todd Gurley (STL) RB: 30-159
Thomas Rawls (SEA) RB: 23-169, 1
Andy Dalton (CIN) QB: 30-44, 331, 1t, 7c-18-1t

Bad Spots

NFL: So many bad run games (team / player), too many to list
Texans (L): 13 PEN – 125y
Jaguars’ OL: six (6) sacks Bortles
Patriots’ OL: Letting face of NFL (Brady) go face-down 5x in Dallas
Peyton Manning (DEN) QB: 22-35, 266, 0t-2int, versus…Oakland
Matthew Stafford (DET) QB: 20-32, 188, 1-3
Drew Brees (NO) QB: 26-43, 335, 2t-1i-2lf
Matt Ryan (ATL) QB: 24-42, 254, 2i, 1lf
Nick Foles (STL) QB: 11-30, 141, 1-4i

Kicker’s Korner (Football’s Genesis)

Sam Martin (DET) P: 4-39, 3 [-20]
Jordan Berry (PIT) P: 8 –, 6
Josh Brown (NYG) K: 3-3 (41), 3x-3 (12)
Steve Gostkowski (NE) K: 3-3 (57), 3-3 (12)
Ryan Allen (NE) P: 4-42.3, 3
Marquette King (OAK) P: 4-50.8, 3. Cool name, cooler if Joliet is his middle
Brandon McManus (DEN) K: 3-3 (41), 3-3 (10); P: 1-41y
Barth Connor (TB) K: 3-3 (47), 3-3 (12)
Caleb Sturgis (PHI) K: 4-4 (41), 3-4 (15)
Dustin Colquitt (KC) P: 7-41.6, 4
Travis Coons (CVD) K: 4-4 (43), 1-1 (13)
Sam Koch (BAL) P: 6-49.2, 2
Jon Ryan (SEA) P: 8-36.8
Kevin Huber (CIN) P: 6-44.3, 3

♫ Here, there and everywhere ♫

NaVorro Bowman (SF) LB: 13t-3a
Mike Wilhoite (SF) LB: 11-5
Greg Hardy (DAL) DE: 4-1-2s-1ff
Jerraud Powers (AZ) DB: 9-2-1
Deone Bucannon (AZ) SS: 9-2
Telvon Smith (JAX) LB: 13-1
Fletcher Cox (PHI) DT: 6t-3s-1fr-2ff
Kenny Vaccaro (NO) FS: 9-2
Robert Alford (ATL) CB: 1t-2i (1td)
Guy Lawrence (BAL) DT: 3-3-2s
Robert Quinn (STL) DE: 4-3-1s-1ff
Lamarcus Joyner (STL) CB: 6-1-1fr
James Laurinaitis (STL) S: 3-5-1i
Michael Bennett (SEA) DE: 5-1-1s
Vincent Rey (CIN) LB: 6-7
Carlos Dunlap (CIN) DE: 3-3-1.5s
Bashaud Breeland (DC) CB: 6-2-1i
Chris Baker (DC) DT: 2-1s-2ff

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: T.Brady, 12.18.11, J.Beall, wc.cca, Denver; T.Brady, 8.28.09, K.Allison, wc.cca, Washington-DC.
Posted: 10.13.15 @ 1:30pm EST; Copyright ® 2015

NFL15 Cherry Sour: “Fools for Scandal”

24 Jan

With Deflategate and its PSI pigskin narrative (lbs per sq inch) having tabled the pre-Super Bowl analysis that footballers have come to expect, it’s been a challenge for those of us who write on the NFL to find our focus.

I was beginning to feel a bit like “Elaine” (spirit, not body) in that Seinfeld episode where she fights writer’s block to find a theme for Peterman’s “Himalayan Walking Shoe.”

..............Brady.wc.cca.12.18.11.J.Beall.thmb

And then it hit me while watching a 1930s cockeyed romance (“Fools for Scandal (’38)) with, who else, but the legendary Carole Lombard. Such a beautiful face and talented mind never had to suffer so many face contortions.

Eureka!, patience is a virtue, all good things come to those who wait, whatever it was that made my tumblers fall into place, I had my theme, and a snappy title, too.

Maybe we’re not so much fools for tawdry tales as it is the media monopolies who know just how to press our buttons. We’re human, susceptible to scandalous habits, the weight of constant coverage and the minions who tag along to try to make it take hold.

.............blackhole.nasa.wc.cca.JSL.Caltech.2013.thmb

Another black-hole has emerged in our sporting universe that’s sucking the joie de vivre out of our neo-national pastime at the worst time. Maybe not a sign of a civilization in decline but these media feeding frenzies of late (a la Rice, Sam, Sterling, The non-Catch (Dez), etc.) cannot be a bellwether of progress & better days ahead.

And once again, a picayune process of post-game deconstruction stole the show.

The details are sketchy and in flux, but following Sunday’s AFCT (NE 45-7), Patriots’ game-balls came under suspicion for under-inflation, triggered by either Ravens rumor or D’Qwell Jackson (Colts) in-game INT ball. The League then confiscated Pats balls just as 2nd half got underway and initiated an investigation as to whether or not the pigskins were in fact under-inflated, and if yes, the who, how and rule implications.

The League determined Wednesday that the 12-ball set of spheroids all held low pressure (-2 psi (lbs per square inch) below standard (12.5 min)) and released a Friday statement confirming “under-inflation” of Pats AFCT balls in 1st-half with rectification by 2nd.

Now we wait on the NFL to finish its investigation, reveal its determinations and if necessary, mete-out a penalty, whether that be a reprimand, team-tags (draft), fines or suspensions, probably post-SB. Oh goody.

Getting this settled by Monday would be a favored schedule, dissipating the odd cloud that hangs overhead and leaving a full week for serious game build-up.

That’s what fans’d favor. And faux-fans? They just want Roger & Redskins out.

...............Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

On Thursday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his starry quarterback Tom Brady responded to the growing pressure and held separate press conferences.

And on the whole, I’d say that both men carried it off well enough.

Belichick (“had no knowledge”) was his usual curt, taciturn self, wisely keeping his words to a minimum and bristling anytime a reporter started to press.

Brady, for his part (“I have no knowledge of anyone doing anything”) was cordial as his usual self and entirely patient with a Boston press corps that hurled more softballs than tight spirals at the decorated and reputable but now suddenly questionable QB.

.............Brady.10.27.13.J.Newton.wc.cca.thmb

A female reporter finally did pose one of the few pointed queries: “Who handles the ball after the refs bring them over?” Brady: “I have no idea…we’re still trying to figure out what happened.”

Both played it too close to the vest and breached boundaries of believability at times (Brady: “I don’t think about the ball”) but achieved three critical goals: 1) denied any knowledge of the deflation; 2) made it clear they are in full cooperation with the investigation, and 3) appreciate the importance of the game’s integrity. Sometimes clear & concise equates candor.

One curious moment came when Tom made a “Mr. Whipple” claim: “I don’t squeeze the ball, I grip it, I guess there’s a difference.” Somewhere Dick Wilson of Charmin® fame is smiling (d.‘07).

And for anyone who’s not a Patriots pisser (Pollyannaish, but I’d guess 70% of fandom and 90% SB49 viewership), a group that cannot include most ex-jocks & scribes on ESPN discussion panels who should have their neutrality levels checked for pressure, or is not a hater of the NFL product, this topic can’t be put to rest fast enough.

.............MrWhipple.DickWilson.thmb

What will become of New England’s legacy now?

To those with an axe to grind or prejudice to push regarding this outdoor version of our two most successful franchises in the past two decades (See also; Spurs), this misstep should leak about .5 psi outta’ their championship aura. Measurable but hardly deflating.

But a win over Seattle in SB49 will go a long way to putting this scandal to pasture and pumping air back into the Pats‘ championship ball. A loss? You should be so negative.

Not like Deflategate was gonna’ push most serious football fans to start doubting the Pats success anyway, but putting the newest kids on the super-block in their place with a win in SB49 will dull the edge of the hatchet critics have been wielding ever since news of Spygate broke (’07).

Getting some read on some of your opponents possible plays might prove somewhat helpful, though not likely to tip the scales, but monkeying with a few psi in the pigskin, that’s horse of different color and too much a-do about too small a dog, especially when a “properly inflated” Patriots’ part (NE 28pt 2H) exceeded their opponent’s whole (7pt) four-fold.

Deflategate is not so much about cheating as it is about comfort level, a state that every serious athlete knows all too well about. Hard to imagine there’s not a player in the present or past NFL who hasn’t, on occasion, converted a shenanigan into a claim of gamesmanship. And that includes misters Mark Brunell and Jerome Bettis.

Rules, and their consistent enforcement, are essential to quality. Without it, the game will die a slow death (See; un-addressed tanking claim & betting (NBA)).

..........Goodell.thumbnail.flag

If the NFL does due diligence in its inquiry, finds certain intent on part of Pats’ personnel to deflate in-game balls for unfair gain and a shepard search of League precedent reveals a unique culpability, a deterring penalty follows.

In the long run, the heightened attention to ball management will be a good thing. It’ll bring all sides together, the referees, manufacturer (Wilson®), players and the NFL, to hammer out an improved set of rules that respects, to some degree, individual tastes while maintaining easily verifiable standards that preserve the game’s integrity & spirit.

One concern in wake of Rice-gate is a new tendency to over-reach in appeasement, as NFL did in 2nd Rice susp’n (life). Don’t ‘throw the baby out with bath water,’ Roger.

We live in an age of micro-management, over-analysis and constant change, needful or not, but also one where guardians of integrity must be forever watchful of grift & greed. Not an easy job.

PEDs is cheating, and a real danger, if your health matters.

Starting more as experimentation, once the players became deceitful and their digits rose in never heretofore seen fashion, with exception of amazing Hack Wilson (‘30 / 191 RBIs), as questions & concerns were raised about the games integrity and the bad message to kids, changes finally came and cheating became the definition.

.............football.extreme.wc.'10.HordeFTL.thmb

The life of a football. Who woulda’ thunk?

Trying to pin-down it’s travels & tribulations, its friends & family of fiddling fingers all along its journey, and then for the NFL to publicly present a referee gauging process that appears less-than-standardized from start to finish, seems an impossible and unholy task.

We may be fools for scandal, but Roger Goodell is gonna’ be ready for the loony bin by the time his service is up.

Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: T.Brady, 8.28.09, K.Allison, wc.cca; T.Brady, wc.cca, J.Beall, 12.18.11; black-hole, NASA, JSL-Caltech, wc.cca, 2.21.13; B.Belichick, 8.28.09, K.Allison, wc.cca; T.Brady, 10.27.13, J.Newton, wc.cca; D.Wilson, Mr.Whipple; R.Goodell, 8.30.12, wc.cca, SSG-T.Wade, USMA; Wilson, Extreme.NFL.Soft.Grip.football, wc.cca, HordeFTL, 2010.

Posted: 1.23.15 @ 11:39pm; edit 1.24 @ 1:26am, 12:34 EST

Giving Thanks, NFL Style

27 Nov

While a heretofore widely unknown wide-out for the Giants, Odell Beckham, was garnering all the attention this week in NFL for his gaudy grab in game against Dallas, the best post-game story barely made a ripple with the media, mainstream and otherwise.

The Jacksonville Jaguars season of discontent continued (1-10) after their visit to Lucas Oil Stadium last Sunday as they suffered yet another shellacking, this one at the hands of Chuck Pagano’s Colts, 23-3.

Things will get better, Jaguars, even if it’s in California?

.............baby.bulldog.wc.cca.1892.H.Walker.thub

One of the happy highlights of the mustangs win was a 73-yard touchdown strike from Andy Luck to wide-receiver, and new father, T.Y. Hilton (4r / 122y / 1td).

Frosting on the cake here, for those who favor uplifting endzone events as opposed to the bummer brand (See: “Flop-Jack”), was T.Y.’s unique revelry upon crossing the plane.

No spike, no dance, no crowd leap this time, instead, T.Y. (Eugene) got creative and began caressing the Wilson® as it were a baby, a beautiful girl in this case.

...............Bundesarchiv.wc.cca.Tibet.1938.E.Krause.thmb

There was a new addition to the Hilton family last week as Eugene’s wife, Shantrell, who, I’m assuming, with the help of her medical professionals, brought a bouncing baby girl into the world. Her name, Eugenia, I suppose after her Dad. That’s nice.

ESPN gave the heartfelt hurray some brief air-play on Monday.

Hanna Storm did the honors, zinging Eugene with a closing ha-ha that only a junior producer could’ve fashioned: “Does she have good hands?” I think he said, ‘yes.’

..............baby.bath.J.Orsini.wc.cca.1.10.13.thmb

I don’t have children but my wife, Marianne, has three and now three granddaughters.

As she pulled on-call duty this Thanksgiving holiday, her skillful and slender hands will be helping, most likely, more than one expectant couple deliver their own bundle(s) of joy in her capacity as a CNM (certified nurse midwife) at one of our Atlanta area hospitals.

And contrary to pop-culture belief (Seinfeld), the only things that will be “flying” in the delivery rooms are the sound decibels, in absence of epidural, and grateful hearts.

..............mom.baby.wc.cca.2000.Gambia.thumb

In a poignant moment of parental pride and familial devotion, Mr. Hilton displayed his thankfulness for all the nation to see. It’s not an outpouring of emotion we’re accustomed to viewing in these arrogant times, where so many, old and young alike, think themselves in possession of all life’s answers & truths and a full entitlement to most of its pleasures.

Sport takes alot of flak these days from critics far & wide, sometimes deservedly so, but too often it stems from a general disdain the non-sporting classes have for the world of tumultuous merriment (See; anti-Redskins, sports betting, sticky-gloves, CFP, etc.).

.............baby.yawn.wc.cca.C.Muratov.1958.thmb

But Eugene is not unique. He is, in fact, the norm in pro sport and his gratitude for the goodness that life can produce is a fine example to those who too often focus their gaze and grind upon the glorified, the grandiose, the grotesque, the graft and grievance.

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: baby-toss, wc.cca, 11.29.08, A.Garrett; baby-bulldog, 1892, H.Walker, wc.cca; Bundesarchiv, Tibet, E.Krause, 1938, wc.cca; baby-bath, J.Orsini, wc.cca, 1.10.13; Mom-baby, 2000, Gambia, wc.cca; baby,yawn-Mom, 1958, wc.cca, Muratov.
Posted: 11.27.14 @ 6:42pm; edit 11.28 @ 11:03pm EST