Saturday, September 29, 2012

Welcome Back...


Well it is official, the NFL and Roger Goodell have finally reached an agreement with the "real" referees and they were allowed to work the Thursday night game between the Browns and Ravens. 

The fans gave them a standing ovation as they walked out onto the field.  This will be the first time and last time officials get any kind of standing ovation from fans. 

It was, though, time to reach a deal between these two parties.  The first three games of the year were beginning to become a joke and were making a mockery of the league. 

The NFL, which is the most popular American sport by far, was tainting its brand and having fans furious.  They were standing firm with the stance that the replacement refs were not changing the product on the field. 

There were plenty of calls made that were without a doubt questionable, but it was the flow of the game and control of the game that was altered as well.  The replacements were not qualified to do this level of officiating. 

It was like the NFL asked the replacements if they were football referees and they said, "No, but we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

It was evident they were not equip with the talent and fortitude to handle this kind of pressure.  It culminated with the debacle on Monday Night Football, at right.  The Packers, who I am definitely not a fan of, were hosed by the replacements and it was the straw that broke the camels back.  I am a fan of the game and to see this happen made me sick.

This non call will have ramifications throughout the rest of the season.  The Packers will have one more loss on their resume and the Seahawks will have one more win on their resume for the playoff push. 

It all comes down to tiebreakers in the NFL.  You get six teams in from each league and it usually comes down to that last weekend and a bucket full of tiebreaker scenarios.  You can bet your bottom dollar this will come back to either help or hurt these two teams at the end of the year. 

This is what Roger Goodell didn't want.  He didn't want the referees being bigger than the game and making their actions ultimately determining the outcomes of games.

He also didn't want this issue making the NFL Shield look bad.  The integrity of the game was being questioned and this is what he was supposed to stand for.  Integrity and safety of the game.

He, the owners, and the referees had to strike a deal and it is a good thing they did. 

Now that the deal has been done and fans, coaches, and players are in La-La Land with glee lets remember the regular officials are human too.  They will make mistakes, they will make bad calls, and they will make all us fans angry again. 

I am not Nostradamus, but it will happen. 

I think the difference is we have respect for what referees like Ed Hochuli, pictured left, do in order to run an NFL game.

I think Roger Goodell does as well. 

I have some contacts within the NFL and they informed me of how Mr. Goodell made up with the  regular refs so I will share it with you. 

It goes like this.

Mr. Goodell said, "Hey, Mr. Hochuli, I got a note."

Mr. Hochuli read the note as follows:

"Dear Mr. Hochuli:

Please excuse Roger and his actions that have allowed this once great league to look like the keystone cops.  He is glad to have you referees back in the fold.  He knows the future looks bright and the NFL will once again take its rightful place as the most popular sport in America. 

Signed Goodell's Mother."

Welcome back refs, Welcome Back, Welcome Back!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The How to Guide to Quarterbacking

In the last week, since their loss to Green Bay, there has been a great deal of national backlash towards Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.  His actions on and off the field towards his left tackle J'Marcus Webb, who he yelled and shoved, have been picked apart more than a frog in a science class.

The national media and even fans in Chicago have questioned Jay's skills as a quarterback, his potential to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl, and even his attitude as a human being. 

Jay came to the Bears, via trade from Denver, with the hope of better things to come from the quarterback position.  He came with a jet powered rocket arm and a ceiling as high as any Bears fan had seen in decades from a quarterback.   

What he didn't come with is a how-to-manual for it is supposed to take to be an NFL quarterback.

So Jay has shown some angst towards his offensive linemen.  He has displayed an apparent lack of etiquette towards other players.  He has shown a possible displeasure with the media. 

Really?  Who cares?

Jay has, in the past three years, reason to be upset with his offensive line.  He has been sacked over 100 times and that doesn't count the number of times he got rid of the ball and then was face planted by a rushing linebacker.  This is also a number that would clearly be larger had he not gotten hurt halfway through last year.

The game he had against the Packers was extremely sub par.  I will definitely not argue against that.  He through 4 picks and put his team in too many holes to dig out of. 

He was trying to do everything himself and make a play.  It is the same issue that Michael Vick puts the Eagles in when things go south, Vick tries to make something happen. 

When you are constantly feeling pressure from the pass rush and spending the majority of the game on your backside it gets frustrating.  Jay has stated himself he wants to win and has a passion for this game. 

This is what you want in your teams quarterback.  You want them to be fiery.  I am OK with him yelling at his offensive line and other skill position players. 

This is big boy football not pee-wee football. 

The problem I have with this situation is that fact Jay shoved J'Marcus.  You don't put your hands on anyone and think it will make the situation better.  Hitting or shoving never amounts to success.  Only bad things come from that form of aggression. 

I am; however, OK with him getting in Webb's face.  Jay is an emotional player in an immensely emotional game.  He reminds me of a great deal of Jim McMahon, pictured left. 

The "punky QB" was a bit off his rocker and fiery and it worked for Ditka's Bears.  He played with the passion and personality of the city of Chicago.  I think if Bears fans really think about what they have in Jay Cutler they would agree with me that he possesses these same traits.

I also feel the fans and media types out there who have been upset with Jay's play during that Thursday niter are suffering from early onset dementia.  They only remember one game and don't remember what it was like in his other games or what the Bears had at the quarterback position going back the last twenty years. 

Let me refresh your memories for what it was like before Jay Cutler landed in Chi-town.  Here are the quarterbacks who started the majority of games during the past 20+ years.

1990-93 - Jim Harbaugh.  I think he found his true calling as a head coach an not a starting quarterback.

1994 - Steve Walsh.  Isn't he the guy who hosts America's Most Wanted?

1995 - Erik Kramer.  Wasn't he hilarious when he would enter Jerry Seinfeld's apartment.

1996 - Dave Krieg.  The #3 all-time NFL fumbles leader.  Nice legacy!

1997-98 - Again Erik Kramer.  I think this is when he started Kramerica Industries.

1999 - Shane Matthews.  Clay Matthews craps bigger than this guy.

2000 - Cade McNown, left.  Is best know for possessing an illegal handicapped parking placard while at UCLA.  Class act on and off the field.

2001-02 - Jim Miller.  Man was tough as nails and damn near used them in his coffin after all his injuries.

2003 - Kordell Stewart.  "Slash" was more like "Slush" in Chicago weather.

2004 - Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson.  I went into deep, deep hibernation during this season.

2005 - Kyle Orton.  Benefited from super defense and got to showcase his tremendous neck beard.

2006-07 - Rex Grossman.  Just good enough to not to screw things up for defense and had lone Super Bowl appearance since '85 team.

2008 - Again Kyle Orton.  See 2005.

2009-Present.  Jay Cutler.  As you can see the Chicago Bears have been praying for years for a franchise talented quarterback and they finally went out and got one.  The list of  signal callers is amazingly bad and now having someone with Jays talent and ability should make all Bears fans happy. 

I for one don't want to go back to what the Bears used to have calling the shots.     

They have questioned his ability to lead this team to a Super Bowl.  He had the Bears in the NFC title game two years ago and hurt his knee.  They questioned his toughness then and it was found he tried to come back in and was medically told not to.  He wants to win.  

They questioned his skills and ability to lead his team.  Last year the Bears were the hottest team in the NFL and sitting pretty at 7-3.  Jay was the toast of the town and then the wheels fell off when he  broke his thumb.  Again people saw what the Bears were with Jay at the helm and what the Bears weren't when he was hurt. 

Without Cutler the Bears are a mediocre football team. 

With him they are a contender. 

This year is only two games old for the 2012 Chicago Bears.  They host a feisty group of St. Louis Rams on Sunday who have adopted the personality of their head coach Jeff Fisher (former Bear).  They are in a rebuilding period and should be cure to what ales the Bears.

Jay will bounce back and show everyone again he is what the Bears have coveted for soooo long. 

He didn't come with a manual but...

What real man would read the manual anyway? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Notre Lame


The last few days it was announced that Notre Dame will be leaving the Big East and joining the ACC in all sports except football.  This is not totally shocking they have decided to leave as teams have been jumping conferences like crazy over the past few years. 

The issue I have with the move is the narcissistic, egotistical, megalomaniac stance that Notre Dame football takes as they constantly stay as an independent.  They have again moved to a conference and not added football to that conference although they want the benefit from that conference. 

Talk about having your cake and eat it too.

To me Notre Dame has no meaning other than having to watch them play some mediocre football on NBC every Saturday afternoon.  The Notre Dame brand is not what it once was.  Their fans can tell you what they want but I will stand by that till the death.  This once powerful football university has not won a National Championship since Tony Rice, at left, was leading the charge in 1988. 

1988!  Really! 

This is the national power that everyone feels needs to be given all these perks like the BCS letting them in if they have eight wins or more.  It is dumb and they really need to just join a conference and add football.  Get it done already and make college football as level of a playing field as possible.  Enough of this ancient way of thinking and doing business and stop it.   

They will be joining the ACC now and although they won't be joining in football they will have to play five ACC opponents each year in their schedule. 

Five opponents per year out of the ACC.  But you aren't joining the league as a football member?  What a joke and how lame!  This is what I am talking about.  You won't add football but they are forcing you to play their teams five times a year.

I mean poop or get off the pot already!!! 

I thought it was ridiculous when the Big Ten approached them a few years ago and they decided not to join yet they were playing the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and sometimes Northwestern annually.

It is the old adage that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well its gotta be a duck.  Right??? 

I understand why they don't want to join as the almighty dollar speaks volumes.  Notre Dame is a monopoly when it comes to football and if they joined the conference it benefits from every team when they play in a bowl game.  If you can stay relevant independently and gain all the money it is the obvious choice.  I get that.   

The problem is Notre Dame isn't what is used to be.  The last time they were really dominate and had great teams year in and year out Lou Holtz, pictured left, was patrolling on the sidelines.  Not in ESPN's TV studio. 

They have tried to hire famous coaches and the hot coach and none of them have been able to bring this sinking ship back to life.  The kids that are playing football today really don't know Notre Dame football as a good product.  Like I stated early it has been 24 years since Notre Dame won a college football championship and the kids on campus now weren't even born yet. 

ESPN's Mike Golic has sons who play at Notre Dame but that is because he and his brother were stars there.  It would be interesting to ask his kids if they would be playing there today if their dad and uncles hadn't played there. 

Notre Dame is currently coached by Brian Kelly who was been successful before, most recently at Cincinnati, and he has the experience and drive to do the job.  Is the change though going to make his job easier?

The ACC has Virgina Tech and Florida State as their top tier of talent each year.  The rest of the league is really suspect at best.  You have the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Boston College, Miami (who is a shell of its former self), etc.  They have to play five games against this talent going forward and this cuts into their other scheduling. 

The regular match ups Notre Dame has played in years past of Michigan, USC, Stanford, etc. could become challenged and really cut into what Notre Dame fans have been subject to in the past.  You take five games away from your regular schedule tendencies what are Notre Dame fans going to think in the future?

Will Michigan and Notre Dame do battle in the future?  Who knows only time will tell.  

The change is definitely coming and the Big East is asking at least 27 months advance notice, coupled with an extremely large buyout, to leave the league.

I am sure the other Notre Dame sports will do just fine in their adjustment to yet another league. 

For Notre Dame basketball it should be a slam dunk.

As for Notre Dame football I think this decision is yet another lame incomplete pass. 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cowboys Giant Night

The NFL season kicked off last night with a classic match up between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.  The NFL always knows how to do things the right way by having the defending Super Bowl champion headline the opening night of football. 

The anticipation had been building for months.

The problem is someone forgot to inform the Giants.

They must have misplaced their "Little Orphan Annie" decoder pin to figure out what was in store for them against the Cowboys. 

Lucky for me I did have mine handy and this is what was to be deciphered. 

Be sure...

Be sure to...

Be sure to what???

Be Sure to cover Ogletree!

Ogletree!!!  A crumby third string receiver!!!

That was the important message?!?

It turned out to be.

It was obvious from the first few possessions the Giants were hell bent on using their attacking killer pass rush and try and take away Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.  This left Kevin Ogletree to basically exploit their lack of depth in the secondary and burn them for two touchdowns and over 100 yards.

He will be the big add in fantasy waiver wire claims today I guarantee it.   

The production they didn't expect from Ogletree, pictured left, allowed Dallas' running game to gain much needed yardage and continue to grind out the clock.  Tony Romo, who others and I have questioned about, was superb last night.  He only made one mistake, an interception with a man in his face, and was able to throw 300yds, 3 TD's, and play a complete four quarters. 

He out dueled Eli Manning and his "star" receiver Victor Cruz the whole night.  It might have been a different outcome had Cruz not dropped three very crucial passes that could have kept drives going and had a potential for scores.  The Giants, who were last in rushing a year ago, were no better this go around either. 

Their inability to run the ball on a consistent basis really hinders them especially if Eli's receivers are not catching the ball.  Being one dimensional on offense is hard enough but being zero dimensional is down right impossible.   

Eli has been able to over come this deficit in the playoffs and manage games with the help of a super aggressive defense.  If the Giants though are not able to get to the quarterback it will be another rough regular season for them. 

If they are struggling in these areas, especially in a very stacked NFC, it will be hard to see them making the playoffs.  I don't want to over state the outcome of the game but these areas were very glaring last night.  For one night the Cowboys were better.  The Giants will have their chance to return the favor later in the year.   

I also am not "drinking the Kool-Aid" of the Cowboys either.  I still have them just behind the Giants in their division but I have to give them credit for at least one night.  Jason Garrett, pictured right, and Rob Ryan had their guys ready and they produced.

The game plan was great and the coaching late in the game was what every football fan wants out of their team.  You play to win the game, as Herm Edwards always says. 

The Cowboys were winning and in a 3rd and 11 situation with just 2:11 on the clock in the fourth quarter.  When most teams would have run the ball and let the clock dwindle to the two minute warning then punted.  The Cowboys and Jason Garrett took the game into their own hands and went out and took the win. 

Garrett showed confidence in his starting quarterback when others in the league, and including myself, would have just gone the safe route.  He called a very skilled slant route and found his man, Ogletree, for the first down and ultimately the win.

Looks like Jason Garrett and Tony Romo had their decoder pins handy too!