Tag Archives: Oakland Raiders

NFL17: Adrian Peterson Pressing For Saint-hood On a 2d Miracle Comeback

27 Apr

Adrian Peterson v. Marshawn Lynch

If New Orleans Saints new superstar in Adrian Peterson can pull off yet another miracle comeback as he did in 2015 when, post-injury, he led the League in rush yards and the Vikes to an 11-5 mark, it won’t qualify him for sainthood by Vatican standards but it should help to return the NFL Saints back to contendership while exorcizing any demon that All-Day may’ve realized in last year’s physical and family troubles. “The power of Christ (and a Super Bowl ring) compels you!”

On Monday, Peterson inked a 2-yr, $7 million deal with the Saints (3.5M gtd (2.5b)) that has a potential to pay the future HOF’er $8M+ if incentives are met.

Adrian’s exit from Minnesota and subsequent sign with his former team’s 2010 NFCC opponent, ironic in that it was they (NO) who forced him into fumblitis (3) to stymie his one chance at Super trip, marks the end of an era for the franchise which is still seeking its first SB win in four tries and return trip to the Big Game since 1977 when Bud Grant strolled the frigid Metropolitan (MoA) sideline.

In Peterson’s ten seasons in the Land of 10.000 Lakes, missing almost two complete campaigns due to knee injuries, Purple made the playoffs four (4) times, getting as far as the NFCC once with Brett Favre under center, Adrian winning All-Pro honors four times and MVP (AP) in 2012.

The Vikings have some things to smile about on the departure of their franchise face: A glittering new stadium (US Bank), veteran, fairly savvy QB in Sam Bradford and a head coach in Mike Zimmer who has returned the Norseman to a semblance of defensive respectability (#3 yapg / #6 papg) that has only been seen sporadically since the Vikings glory days in the 70s.

But while their braintrust in GM Rick Spielman, owners Wilf (Zygi – Mark) and the coach may feel equal parts of gratitude and relief when the optioned-out Peterson turns topic, they’ve still got a major problem in matriculation (offense) that’s persisted since Favre’s exit, one which the Draft won’t resolve quickly.

The Saints, on the other hand, they matriculate just fine.

In final 2016 regular season ranks, New Orleans led all teams in yards gained per game (426), just ahead of NFC champion, Atlanta (416 (#2)), and flip it with their regional rival in the all important points scored per game category (#1 / 33.8), putting up on average 29+ per (#2) last year.

When you’ve got record-setter Drew Brees expertly manning the controls (2001), an ageless wonder who, like Tom Brady, looks to have some kind of a Dorian Gray thing going, sans the gruesome painting (See; O.Wilde), offense is rarely a problem. Those 1000 receivers can come in (Michael Thomas) and go out (Brandin Cooks (NE)) and Brees just keeps breezing along.

And even a quarterbacking-machine like Brees needs a break from the pressure now and then. And that’s the run game’s job, assuming the OL is doing theirs.

Besides relieving the signal-caller of certain stress, a good ground attack also helps keep the defense on its toes and guessing. New Orleans got that in 2016 from backfield tandem in Mark Ingram (5.1) and the since departed Tim Hightower (4.1 (SF)). And that’s where All-Day will come into play.

But it’s the defensive side, once a strong suit for the gold & black but now New Orleans’ mountain to conquer, that‘ll need most attention. Key defensive ranks in 2016: #27 in yards allowed per contest; #31 points per. The collapsing Falcons (See; SB51) better join that climbing team, too, or can forget winning, let alone getting back to the Big Game (#25 / 27).

— — —

With the Raiders recent acquisition of game-dormant but very visible running back Marshawn Lynch from the Seahawks for a 2018 draft swap (5R for 6R), there emerges a curious comparison to the Saints own Peterson pick-up.

Lynch sat out all of last season and played < half of 2015. It’s good to workout (ML passed his Oakland test), but that won’t replace game hits and habits. Like Adrian, Marsh is no spring chicken, having turned 31 last week (2007). In AARP years (1 NFL year = 5 AARP), both men would be eligible for benefits & discounts (Caution: Always find & read boilerplate before contracting). Unlike Adrian, Marshawn has a title ring, playing a small but key role in ‘Hawks SB48 win.

Where Peterson gets winning points is in his attitude.

Lynch promotes himself as a free-spirit, some might say a wingnut. That’s cute when times are good but when rough waters hit, it’s the kooks that tend to pout and withdraw inward, a bad character trait in the ups & downs of team sport. In addition, because of his extended absence from the NFL, one has to seriously question Marshawn’s level of commitment to the competition.

With Adrian commitment is never in question. Imbued with great determination, his drive for perfection is pronounced, maybe too much so at times, in himself and with those around him. Big question on Peterson is not whether there is still sufficient ‘gas in the tank’ but will the tires hold out (knees)? Like Lynch, AP has missed nearly two of the last three seasons and turned 32 in March.

Ingram (2011), who joined the 1000 rusher club in 2016, is expected to remain the #1 carrier in Sean Payton – Pete Carmichael’s scoring scheme. If Peterson can contribute 600 on the ground, 200 in the air and impart some of his 10 years of NFL experience to the up n‘ comers, GM Mickey Loomis will be pleased.

The Saints (7-9) were competitive down the stretch in 2016, going 3-3 with only the Detroit loss a poor show. Again, a serious reconfiguration of D-scheme is New Orleans’ key to success in 2017 (See; Atlanta), but a healthy and occasionally electric Adrian could give their offense that added pop to keep defenders, and then the whole Saints sideline, confident in a return to contendership.

Commentators in the Bayou and in the Saints’ circle of strategy are tempering expectations over the arrival of the rehabbed and rather aged Mr. Peterson. But his gangbusters style of run and Hall-of-Fame credentials will no doubt give Saints fans hope that Adrian has another miracle in his pocket, or in his legs, as it were. The man and his mission to make good will likely be in their prayers.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-wikiproject; A.Peterson, Arvee5.0, 1.28.12, wc.cca; D.Brees-Conways, USMC, E.Kirk-Cuomo, 11.2.9; M.Lynch, wc, 2.5.14, D.Sizer; Mosaic-Saint, Geolina, AachenCathedral, wc, Germany, 2011; J.Otto, Topps, 1970.
Posted: 4.27.17 @ 4:16pm; Copyright © 2017

Advertisements

NFL17 – Las Vegas: Think Symbolism Is For Suckers? Try Sitting Out Francis Scott Key

6 Apr

Las Vegas Raiders: It has a certain NFL ring to it, no pun, even as I’m not a fan of the relocation. But “a rose is a rose,” i.e., it is what it is, in pragmatic speak.

The Raiders name is not what I would envision for the League’s newest member of metropoli (2019), a family of locales where, once you’re in it’s not hard to get out (Oakland, San Diego, St. Louis), i.e., no knuckle-crushing or horse-head sheets. Though, Davis-the-Younger will no doubt take heed of Tom’s warning, “you can’t go home again,” not to set things right, anyway.

That’s not because the silver & black pirate-guy image is not a terrific motif. Arguably, it’s the NFL’s best. I’ve got a hat and cherish it. And its slogan from the mind of AFL original and their legendary owner Al Davis (d.2011), ‘just win baby,’ flows from the lips like wine on a Spanish galleon.

But when a city (LV) – State (NV) contract to commit $1.5 billion (+) to build a new home in cement & girders, coupled with the fact that those parties-of-the-first-part are landlocked (not oceanside), they’ve every right…no, they’ve every obligation to nix half-measures, start anew and wave their own design.

I like the Nevada Sunsets or Las Vegas Buffets (seriously) as new name possibilities, but if the Raiders name remains, which it probably will, the slogan and uniforms will need some detail work: ‘Just roll baby’ and gold ($) trim to create a sense of both separation and remembrance of their California roots.

— — —

Back to the decision to relocate, a move marking the ramblin’ Raiders third attempt to find a permanent home (‘82-94 LA).

I’m no curmudgeon. I like football.

I like city- states that’ll fork over the ducats to get it done (new stadium).

And I like games of chance in their proper place, person and time. But this is neither the place nor the time to set-up shop in the gambling capital of the Milky Way galaxy, outer rim, notwithstanding.

NFL Cufflinks collected in Phoenix the last weekend in March and voted on Monday 31-1 (Mia) to give go-ahead to majority holder Mark Davis to move his father’s silver & black baby from Oakland 400 miles southeast to Sin City.

Vegas’ detractors in its smaller TV market (#40 +/-) (Bay area #5 +/-), and a more transient, tourist-based economy were obviously out-weighed by its biggest asset in that the citizenry of Nevada are willing to foot a little over one-third the $2 billion bill expected for a new stadium planned to open for play in 2020.

But sport + gambling (≠ success) = $#8%?@!! (big trouble).

Does an NFL presence in Las Vegas (NHL’s Golden Knights (there’s a bold name) begin play in 2017) necessarily mean team personnel will be rubbing shoulders with corrupt elements, those who’d solicit game-change (fix)? No, it does not.

The morality of individual or corporate greed aside, Vegas’ strip is no longer gangster-operated as it was in the heyday of heavies (1950 – 70s) as depicted so colorfully (gulp) in the Martin Scorsese crime-drama, Casino (95).

It’s now quite the opposite as Sin City is one of American’s favorite destinations for family fun, food and wholesome frolic.

As for betting, practically anyone, anywhere with internet capability can make a wager in 2017. Knowing a bookie, or as “Jim Rockford” would’ve quipped, “those short little guys in their green cigars,” is no more necessary than dressing up for the game in fedora and dress-jacket (See; 50s photos).

And that, while gambler age seems of little concern to sport moguls or Americans in general as all the Majors have been soliciting investments from children by way of fantasy for a decade now yet raising not a peep from politicos nor socialites.

It’s one thing to bombard kids with shoe and team apparel advertisements where the buyer gets something concrete in return, but the fantasy gamble offers no such quid pro quo, only speculation as if it were Romper Room roulette.

The goings-on in Las Vegas is not so much the problem with it housing a major pro sport team, but rather, the symbolism of what used to go-on (bone-break / life-savings lost) and still does in the Neon City (gambling galore).

‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ may apply to a whole slew of sultry affairs in Sin Central but not when it comes to symbolism.

The city’s wagering reputation, even as fun-parks fill-up daily with families working to scrub that image clean, will remain the same were the Girl & Boy Scouts, Policeman’s Benevolent Society and Sisters of Notre Dame to all relocate their headquarters to Nevada’s most populous city.

That means the message will remain the same with a Vegas major: ‘Gambling is good for everyone in the NFL fan family, its partners in business and pink-wear (ACS),’ where the gamble cancer-patients and families fretfully undertake every-day is the costliest of all and was the real message behind early Breaking Bad.

While I’m confident the vast majority of Nevada citizenry are as hard-working (or lazy) as anywhere else in America and probably have little or no connection to the gamble, that’s not what the public nor players will see.

Some jocks might use Vegas venue as excuse to cross the line (‘Hey, the Big Boys (NFL) are rolling in it, takin’ chances, why not me?’). Why not indeed? It’s a crossover that, if it did happen and were detected today by League watch-dogs would likely not be broadcast in the news as it was in 1919-20 (Black Sox).

Can’t mess with the golden goose, right? Right. And athletes don’t need another reason to cheat themselves and the fans (See; PEDs).

Think of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, aka, Kaep Krusader, and ask yourself if symbolism doesn’t matter.

Kaepernick was never gonna’ be an elite QB, not with his red-zone blues, a habit of coming up empty on the goal-line late in the big game (SB47 – NFCC14). It was a run-QB skill-set that would keep him in the back-up or temporary starter’s role. Once that status became clear in 2016, the Anthem kneel-down began as he threw caution to the wind which became his best completion percentage (ugh).

But Kaepernick’s matured in the pocket, less likey to rabbit and improved TD ratio (v. INT) which should’ve made him an ideal clip-boarder to have rostered if a starter goes down. But no such luck for him, not at this posting.

Clearly, it’s not CK’s limited skill-set that has him waiting on the phone call. Had he caught one more break and put it in the end-zone to win SB47 (+ power-outage), he’d be sporting one of those god-awful-looking champion rings.

And it’s not his National anthem stance, or sit, in protest of what he claims a brutal American police policy. These United States were born in protest (1776-83) and can appreciate, or at least stomach, a sincere objection.

Instead, it’s Kaepernick’s racist pig socks that depicted only white (pink) police that he sported as he hit stride on his shtick, which has him persona non grata and unemployed apart from Beats By Dre, etcetera. And that’s not owner collusion, that’s fighting the good fight against ignorance and hatred.

Symbolism matters. Money matters, too.

But when you make a pact to be the gambling Mecca to every creature with coin or credit (‘Take me to your (ATM)’), a social contract Las Vegan elders freely entered, you forfeit the moral right to house a major professional sporting enterprise, meaning, all bets are off, or on, or whatever the bad one is.

The National Football League, who, ironically, have been successfully fighting a legal battle against the sport-betting biz, it’s sponsors and current Vegas elders are all in breach, non-actionable as that state will remain.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: R.Goodell, NFL, wc.cca, 8.30.12, SSG.T.Wade, USMA; LasVegas-sign, wc, 4.19.05, D.Vasquez; dice-Antonio, wc, JGuzzMaan, 6.24.16; C.Kaepernick, wc, M.Morbeck, 9.9.12; NFL-wikiproject
Posted: 4.6.17 @ 12:28am EST, edit 4.10; Copyright © 2017

NFL17 Wild Cherry Picks: 8 Teams, 4 Games and One Tough Call (NY@GB)

6 Jan

rodgers-wc-k-allison-1-10-16-dc-429kSaving the best for last? Maybe so, when schedulers slated the Green Bay Packers to host, once again, the New York Giants Sunday afternoon in the last of four NFL wild-card contests (4:40 EST), a cavalcade of contenders that kicks-off Saturday.

All the action marks the first leg in a three week playoff race whose finish-line is NRG Stadium in Houston come February 5th for Super Bowl 51.

The Lambeau clash figures the keenest with the Carr-less Raiders visiting that same NRG field to face the Texans (1.7), the 0-3 closing Lions traveling to Seattle to take on the Seahawks (1.7) and another clipboard-QB led team in Miami must fly north to battle the Lombardi-laden, Big Ben-led Steelers (1.8).

manning-gb-wc-1-15-12-m-morbeck-296kPressing the point on the closer (NY-GB), Pack’s one of the hottest teams in the NFL (NE #1), appearing to’ve figured a way out of the funk that stunk up their 1st-half of 2016. For their part, the Giants, with two wins vs. Dallas, have gotten quite cozy playing in Green Bay in the most intense of circumstance, knocking Packers from the playoffs twice in recency, first, a Conference contest in 2008 (Favre / Eli), then again in a 2012 Divisional (Rodgers / Eli). Pick’em.

The playoffs mark a new beginning in the championship campaign of conquest. It’s when the crème de la crème get mettle-tested by the fiercest foes and not infrequently worst weather mother nature can dole out.

For the pro player, his body’s telling him it’s time to pack-it-in (no pun) for winter, catch up on sleep, reacquaint with friends & family, read the mail, walk the dog, anything but more football. Then the contract say otherwise, bills to pay and the desire to be the best, all driving him onward in hopes of greater glory.

Which team can prove Julius Caesar and cross the Rubicon in conqueroring the vast playoff landscape and its combatants? Some teams clearly have a leg up on the competition in weaponry, positioning and the art of field tactics & technique.

Home-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.

cherries-wc-cca-3-3m-b-kua-6-1-8Wild Cherry Picks: Veni Vidi Vici

Raiders (12-4) @ Texans (9-7): 1.7 Disney 4:35: Texans win

Detroit Lions (9-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1): NBC 8:15: ‘Hawks win

Miami Dolphins (10-6) @ Pittsburgh (11-5): 1.8 CBS 1:05: Steelers win

New York Giants (11-5) @ Green Bay Packers (10-6): Fox 4:40: NY wins

Record: 80 – 90 – 3

nfl-symbol-wikiproject-6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Giants-fan, wc.cca, Darasman, 11.26.12; A.Rodgers, wc, 1.10.16, DC, K.Allison; E.Manning, @GB, wc, 1.15.12, M.Morbeck; cherries, B.Kua, wc, 6.1.08; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 1.6..17 @ 11:22am EST; Copyright © 2017

NFL17: Playoff Bound? Reliable Run-Game’s a Must, Keen Clipboarder a Plus

25 Dec

A savvy signal-caller and a defense that makes an impression: Two team traits well-known amongst keen footballers as essentials for a playoff contender.

But in this era of downfield divas and near 100-point results (NO 48 @ AZ 41 (W15)), it’s easy for even the most studious student of the game to overlook the Super necessity of a complementary run-game. Not a dominant ground attack, but integral, responding when called to balance the attack and spare the QB.

The days when power-backs like Earl Campbell and John Riggins, thoroughbreds like Walter Payton and Eric Dickerson could carry their clubs through much of the playoffs, seem as long gone as the gloveless receiver. While their exploits are greatly missed by those of us who remember watching them run, today’s top team doesn’t necessarily need the gargantuan ground-gainer.

blount-wc-j-beall-1-19-14*In fact, the most successful coach won’t ask his running game to carry the team and will rarely have a backfield guy contending for MVP.

Take Adrian Peterson for example.

In his seven full seasons, All-Day has led the League in rushing 3x and won one MVP (12). But only once, in 2009-10, have the Vikes been top contenders in that span, owing much of it to the arrival of 3-time Valuable man, Brett Favre who had his best statistical showing that season in leading Purple to the NFCC (v NO).

Then look at the NFL standard for most of the 2000s, the Patriots.

Since Bill Belichick took the reins in Foxborough he’s had five 1000-yd rushers, with Corey Dillon topping at 1600+ in ’04 but most (Antowain Smith, Ben Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley & LeGarrette Blount) coming in around the 1100 mark. A strong number but not in category with Peterson or prime Emmitt Smith.

No running-back MVPs, no League leaders in year-end rushing totals. And yet, Belichick teams have made it to six Supers and how many playoff spots.

Check the box scores: Quantity in rush, say, 90-100+, is not so important, not a weekly total, as much as quality. That when Belichick, Brady, New England’s OC, want a good ground gain, it’s likely to happen and give the D more to think about.

In Jim Brown’s day (64), the big, bruising back could carry a club all the way but it’s a rare occurrence in the day of play-action pass. Yet, without a strong, reliable run game (900 – 1200), one man or tandem, your team’s Super Bowl aspirations will most likely remain just that, a pipe-dream.

brownj-wc-tsna-m-emmons-315kReliability + timeliness are the watchwords for today’s Supernicitious run-game.

In the present, Mr. Blount has been Mr. Reliable for the Pats these past two seasons, averaging a modest 50-60 per (900 yr.) and fashioning one of the most inspirational football career stories in recent history.

Getting all blame (& susp‘n) in the Byron Haut punching incident, sophomore Blount and his Oregon Ducks opened their 2009 season against Boise State in loss, crushing team national title and Heisman hopes. The Madison, Florida native was then drafted by Tampa Bay, met the 1000 benchmark, was shipped to the juggernautious Patriots in 2013, started 2014 in Pittsburgh only to be returned to the Patriots to finish that season and then contributing (3td) to New England’s PS run that culminated in besting defending champ Seattle in SB49.

In 2016, Blount is the go-to guy in Patriots’ run-game, topping the 1000 mark in W15 and at this posting, leading the NFL in rushing TDs (15). Quite…a…story.

NFC Run-Lite

Detroit Lions

Run totals of Theo Riddick (357 / 3.9), Dwayne Washington (243 / 2.9) & Zach Zenner (198 / 3.5) just puts more pressure on Stafford to work his arm.

New York Giants

When the Coughlin Giants won Super #1 (09), Brandon Jacobs was top grounder, posting 1009 (5.0). Returning to the Big Game in 2011 to top the Patriots, again (SB46), to spoil NE’s perfect run, their fine backfield tandem in Jacobs (571) and Ahmad Bradshaw (659) proved effective. In 2016, no top GG and a tandem that hardly impresses: Rashad Jennings, 541 (3.3) & Paul Perkins, 354 (3.9).

Seattle Seahawks

Having not found Lynch’s replacement, no easy task, Pete Carroll & Darrell Bevell have relied on the Christine Michaels (469) / Thomas Rawls (327 (3.5)) duo. And if you figure in your QB tally (Wilson / 219), you’re asking for trouble.

Green Bay Packers

With Lacy out (IR) and Starks fizzling (2.3), new starter Montgomery (4g) was a godsend to tear up the turf (6.5). But in facing a rated Minnesota Vikings defense, Ty Anthony stumbled on Christmas Eve (23 – 2.6). If the Packers braintrust think they can ride the Rodgers – Nelson hook-up to Houston (2/5), there are gonna’ be alot of cheeseheads crying in their beer n’ curds come January.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Injuries have taken their toll on former great Doug Martin (2.9) who’d passed the 1400 mark twice in his relatively young career. Jacquizz Rodgers (4.4) and rook Peyton Barber (4.1) average well but not many carries. Upside, fresh legs for PS.

Wanted: Clipboard Saviors

It’s not often a playoff team loses their starting QB, but it does happen. Lucky for those teams who plan ahead in the off-season and pay the piper for a capable clipboard-holder to fill the void when needed.

l-olivier-pp-wc-1940What did “Zeus (Olivier)” say in Clash of the Titans (81)?: “Fortune is ally to the brave.” Wise god was (is) the Zeuster.

Bravery must be at a premium in the Oakland front office these days. With the lose of their inspiration & MVP-caliber QB in Derek Carr, going down with a broken fibula in W16 action, the Raiders’ prospects took a major hit. Not just in Carr’s exit but in the caliber of clipboard stepping into the breach. But then, an unknown like McGloin or Cook may only need an opportunity to show the world just how capable a marticulator they are. Maybe

The Tennessee Titans, losing their starter as well when Marcus Mariota was lost for the remainder on a leg fracture, are in a slightly less precarious position in that they signed veteran Matt Cassel last off-season. The career won-loss is uninspiring but the Pro Bowler did quarterback two teams (Chiefs / Patriots) to two double-digit win seasons, respectively. So there’s that.

Here then are the playoff contenders and their back-up state.

New England: Jim Garoppolo (2-0)
Miami: T.J. Yates (4-3)
Pittsburgh: Landry Jones (1-2)
Baltimore: Ryan Mallett (3-5)
Tennessee: Matt Cassel (33-44)
Houston: Brock Osweiler (13-8)
Oakland: Matt McGloin (1-5) & Connor Cook (0-0)
Kansas City: Nick Foles (20-16)
Denver: Paxton Lynch (1-1)
Dallas: Tony Romo (78-49)
New York Giants: Ryan Nassib (0-0 / 9-10 (C90%)) & Josh Johnson (0-5)
Washington: Colt McCoy (7-18) & Nate Sudfeld (0-0)
Detroit: Dan Orlovsky (2-10) & Jake Ruddock (0-0)
Green Bay: Brett Hundley (0-0)
Atlanta: Matt Schaub (47-45)
Tampa Bay: Mike Glennon (5-13)
Seattle: Trevone Boykin (0-0)

The list of names doesn’t inspire much confidence. Makes you wonder what these coaches and GMs are thinking in the off-season. Football’s a very physical game and quarterback is usually at the epicenter of the earthquake. But then nobody but Ron Wolf apparently thought very much of Brett Favre either when the HOF’er GM snatched him away from Atlanta in 1992. FFT

cherries-wc-cca-b-kua-6-1-08-3-3mSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL wikiproject; Peterson, wc, Arvee5.0, 1.28.12; Blount, wc, J.Beall, 1.19.14; Brown, wc, TSN, Emmons; Olivier, wc, P&P, 1940; cherries, wc, Kua, 6.1.8
Posted: 12.25.16 @ 2:50pm, edit 11:27 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W9: In a Sorry Slate, Broncos @ Oakland Beckons

1 Nov

Maybe you’ve got some chores to do around the house (or flat), ones you‘ve been putting off. On Sunday, put on your dungarees and have at it.

Checkout the lawn. Maybe it could use one more mowing before the snowing starts to blowing. Brrrr!

If you haven’t already you could start on your Christmas-Hanukkah list. That’s why they invented catalogs, Sport. You won’t regret it, come December.

You have kids or you‘re a Big Brother / Sister? Take ‘em to a nearby park to breath in some nature, or head to the city zoo. And don‘t feed the rhinos.

Better yet, team-up and give Mom a hand around the house this Sunday, or take her out to lunch, just as long as it’s not fast-food or chain-fare, meaning, somewhere nice. And leave the damn phones at home.

raking-leaves-wc-d-goehring-12-17-09-2-3mBut whatever you do, don’t plan to spend all your afternoon watching the National Football League.

And it ain’t got nothing to do with the Krude one (Colin-of-the-mock-socks). Any TV viewer who’d ditch a date (NFL) simply because of one self-serving racist could not have had a spirit for sport to begin with, making it more likely their reported exit is in support of Krusader’s play-act, making Nielsen numbers they represented ephemeral (false positive) and then no true reflection upon which sponsors might rely.

Check out the next round of NFL contests.

If Week 9 games could fill a Halloween sack you’d have some glum looking kids with a sad haul of tricks n’ treats to spread on the living room floor: Things like butterscotch wraps, gummy-bears, caramel-covered popcorn balls, red delicious, licorice thingamajigs, whatsits & whatevers. All great stuff, if that’s what you like, but void of the candy corn, Milky Way® and M&M’s® we’ve come to expect.

NFL schedulers must’ve figured fans had better things to do at the midway point than lounge in front of the boob-tube with match-ups like Dallas @ Cleveland, Saints @ 49ers, Panthers @ Rams and the Titans heading to San Diego (Zzzz).

This has gotta’ be the sorriest slate of the season, hands down.

DSC_6852There is one game that beckons like a Kit-Kat® sitting solitary on the kitchen counter: The Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders (NBC 8:30 EST). Chomp!

Both tied for the AFC West lead at 6-2 with young QBs feeling their oats (T.Siemian / D.Carr), the winner taking command but knowing a re-match awaits Week 17 at Sports Authority in Denver to close out the regular and to drip with playoff ramifications.

The Raiders, led by 3rd-year quarterback Derek Carr whose playing in a different stratosphere this 2016, one where the likes of Tom Brady, Matt Ryan & Aaron Rodgers usually orbit (’Who‘s the dude with the goatee?’), hold the scoring edge (#5 ygpg / #6 pspg) over the Mustangs rather tame offensive output (#27 ygpg / #13 pspg), while the hosts, led by Von Miller and T.J. Ward (SS), continue to exhibit tremendous defensive wherewithal (#3 yapg / #5 papg) as their guests can’t stop feeding off the bottom (#31 / #29).

The immovable object versus the unstoppable force, that is, when the Raiders have the ball and the Mustangs aim to stuff it down their…you get the drift.

In truth, I must concede a smidgen of hyperbole in my watchability ratings. Apart from the AFCW battle-for-supremacy, you could reasonably claim a few other contests capable of converting Mom‘s lunch outing into an early dinner.

siemiant-wc-8-29-15-1-9m-j-beallThat includes traditional tussles where the Philadelphia Eagles fly into the Meadowlands to face the rival Giants, the Colts take to Lambeau and the Steelers return to the Crab Cake city to face the Ravens. All teams flashing flaws but still very much in the hunt for those playoff sweets.

In fairness to NFL schedulers, how were they to know that mediocrity (parity) would come to permeate the 32 teams? Correction, 31 teams (See; Patriotus Juggernautus).

And then as any fan worth their weight in high fructose corn syrup knows, even the saddest looking match-up can produce the most heated, exciting battle that turns ticket-stubs into collectible gold. So there’s that.

cherries-ripe-chirak-wc-605k-6-24-7Cherry Picks Week 9

Falcons (5-3) @ TB (3-4): 11.3 NFLN 8:25: Atlanta wins
Lions (4-4) @ Minnesota (5-2): 11.6 Fox 1:00: Vikes win
Eagles (4-3) @ Giants (4-3): Fox 1:00: New York wins
New York Jets (3-5) @ Miami Dolphins (3-4): CBS 1:00: Dolphins win
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4): CBS 1:00: Ravens win
Indianapolis Colts (3-5) @ Green Bay Packers (4-3): CBS 4:25: Packers win
Denver Broncos (6-2) @ Oakland Raiders (6-2): NBC 8:30: Broncos win
Buffalo Bills (4-4) @ Seahawks (4-2-1): 11.7 Disney 8:30: Seahawks win

Record: 39 – 40 – 2

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: V.Miller, wc.cca, J.Beall, 8.20.11; rake-leaves, wc, D.Goehring, 12.17.09; D.Carr, wc, P.Sheffield, 9.28.14; T.Siemian, wc, J.Beall, 8.29.15; cherries-ripe, Chirak, wc, 6.24.7; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 11.1.16 @ 7:01pm, edit @ 11:18 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W5: Fine Lines in the Trench

6 Oct

Men in the Midst

Stoppers who plug the drain,
Orange cones that close the lane,
Coach banks he’ll make the run stop,
Signal-caller trusts he throws timely block,
Men in the midst are not nameless in fact,
So big a Steinway could balance on back,
It’s the sack that’ll pull in the fantasy views,
But it’s battle of brawn to decide win or lose.

— — —

In pro football where nearly all the guys are a 3XL (even most the kickers are pumped today), they are the biggest men on the block, bar none. And that’s BIG.

They are the offensive and defensive linemen, the men in the trench, each hovering around 300 pounds. A mass of rumble and wrangle, they’re the ground troops manning the line of demarcation, that “dividin’ line” as “Lonesome Rhodes” would’ve called it, separating both teams at the snap. And whomever controls that ebb n’ flow will, more than likely, control the battle’s tenor and then the outcome of the war.

thomas-wc-4-14-15-6-6m-e-drost*Though highly valued by teammates, coaches and cufflinks, linemen work for the most part in anonymity, shunning the spotlight that naturally swings onto the glory-stat guys handling the pigskin for pass, province (rush), picks and put-downs (sacks).

A lineman, either side of the ball, will not win the NFL’s most valuable player award for the 2016 regular season. You can take that to the bank.

The Minnesota Vikings Alan Page (DT) was the first defender and lineman to cart home the award in 1971. He remains the last lineman and only one of two defensive stalwarts (Lawrence Taylor (‘86)) to win it since the Associated Press (AP) began awarding its version in 1958 (J.Brown).

The chance of another lineman winning the trophy are about as poor as a pro-choice candidate winning the Republican party’s presidential nod, or vice versa (anti-abortion Democrat winning their party‘s delegate count…): < 2 percent.

Quiz time: What’s the most valuable skill on the defensive side of the ball?

A) Interception – fumble finesse
B) Pressure on the quarterback
C) The art of tackling, or
D) Stopping – slowing the run

page-wc-ebony-1-1970-342kIf you answered ‘C’ you’re a football aficionado, possessing a broad understanding of the game and ample appreciation for what makes it tick.

Interceptions and forced-fumbles are terrific. They stop opponents dead in their tracks and flip it all around, i.e., you get the ball back. But they’re rare and too much focus on their fruition takes your game away from the major tasks at hand: Stopping momentum by more practical means in tackling and pass disruption.

Sacks too are sweet and give an emotional boost but again, they’re a rarity. The high is fleeting and the effort afforded in their unlikely event is better spent elsewhere, hello Mr. Linebacker (Matthews, etc.). It’s why J.J. Watt was a better player when his tackles began trending upward, regardless of the sack count.

How do you know a good rope? Personal stats won‘t do ya‘ much good. There aren’t many. A fine line more than any other aspect of football is a team effort.

That takes you to the team league-leader tallies to rate the top lines.

For offense the categories of concern are as follows: 1) Total offense (yards gained per game), 2) passing ygpg, 3) rushing ygpg and 4) QB-sacks allowed.

mangold-wc-nycmarines-11-13-09-554k-sgt-r-clintonAt Week 5 the Falcons, Cowboys and Raiders’ lines are faring pretty well and it shows in the W-L. See the sacks-allowed so far (NFL average = 8+): CIN (13), IND (15), JAX (12), KC (13), CHI (11), DET (10), TB (10), CAR (13), AZ (12); NYJ (6), HOU (7), DC (7), OAK (2), PHI (4), DAL (6), NYG (6), MIN (6), NO (7), SF (3).

The 49ers and Saints are conundrums.

One statistic for a team or player by itself won’t tell the whole story. Put all your prognostication chips on one number and you’re bound to lose the farm. But they do give clues. Of their three (3) losses, New Orleans, beset by injuries already, two (W1-2) were by a total of only 4 points. They may not be as bad as their won-loss purports.

And the best defensive lines? You take the same route: Total defense (yards allowed per game), passing yards, etc. (See: http://www.nfl.com/stats/team and http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams).

When rating the individuals, the team experts know best (coaches, GMs, scouts, players, favorite press), but Pro Bowl selection, even as the game itself has devolved to a dangerously dull level (Rice v. Irvin), still offers some standard.

Active NFL linemen with five (5) or more Pro Bowl selections: Joe Thomas (CLE), Dwight Freeney (ATL), Jason Peters (PHI), Jahri Evans (NO), Nick Mangold (NYJ), Vince Wilfork (HOU) and Haloti Ngata (DET).

cherries-hispalois-spain-wc-thm-7-2-12Cherry Picks Week 5: “Sufferin’ succotash!

AZ (1-3) @ SF (1-3): 10.6 CBS 8:25: 49ers win
NE (3-1) @ CLE (0-4): 10.9 CBS 1:00: Pats win
Eagles (3-0) @ DET (1-3): Fox 1:00: Lions win
Bears (1-3) @ Colts (1-3): Fox 1:00: Indy wins
Tennessee Titans (1-3) @ Dolphins (1-3): CBS 1:00: Miami wins
Washington Redskins (2-2) @ Baltimore (3-1): Fox 1:00: Ravens win
Houston Texans (3-1) @ Vikings (4-0): CBS 1:00 (GTW): Texans win
Falcons (3-1) @ Denver Broncos (4-0): Fox 4:05 (GTW): Atlanta wins
Cincinnati (2-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (3-1): CBS 4:25: Bengals win
Buffalo Bills (2-2) @ Los Angeles (3-1): CBS 4:25 (GTW): Rams win
San Diego Chargers (1-3) @ Raiders (3-1): CBS 4:25 (GTW): Bolts win
New York Giants (2-2) @ Green Bay (2-1): NBC 8:30 (GTW): GB wins
Tampa Bay (1-3) @ Carolina (1-3): 10.10 Disney 8:30: Panthers win

Record: 18 – 23

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: J.Thomas-Whitner, wc.cca, 4.14.15, E.Drost; J.Thomas, wc, 4.14.15, E.Drost; A.Page, Ebony, wc, 1.1970; N.Mangold, wc, NYC.Marines, Sgt-R.Clinton, 11.13.9; cherries, Hispalois, Spain, wc, 7.2.12; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 10.6.16 @ 12:58am EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Minute Waltz: Closing Take 2015

6 Jan

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