Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We're in a Rebuilding Phase-No-Wait-Never Mind.

Shylock here. To quote great Jew Jerry Seinfeld, "What's the deal" with last year's awful NFL teams doing complete 180's this year (Lions excepted, of course). Miami and Atlanta, who last year went a combined 5-27, this year are heading for the playoffs with a combined record of 20-10. I'm sorry, I have to say that again. These teams TOGETHER had 5 WINS last year, and this year, they each have TEN. It's unheard of!

How do you explain this kind of turn around? It almost defies logic. After last season, "experts" were saying that Miami would, at best, win six to seven games this year, while Atlanta would probably do about the same while rookie quarterback Matt Ryan adjusted to the pro game. Well, all that was completely wrong. The Dolphins are even poised to bump out Brett Favre's enemic New York Jets this weekend. So what's the big difference?

I'd like to pose the argument that it is almost 100% because of improved quarterback play. Let's start with Miami. Last year, they had a total of three signal callers on the field throughout their 16 games-Trent Green (what a disaster that was, shocker), Cleo Lemon, and eventually BYU rookie John Beck. The inconsistent quarterback play, coupled with the fact that none of those guys are really any good, has to be the main reason Miami couldn't get it done last year. Teams need one guy to look to at quarterback, emphasis on ONE guy. Because the quarterback is more than just an offensive player, he's the team leader; he's the player that is in charge of taking control of his team, commanding the offense, and moving the ball. Miami had three guys. And not one of them was much of a leader. Oops.

Atlanta's situation is more complicated. Their leader turns out to be a thug, and their team is thrown into turmoil, despite the overhwelming ledaership skills of one Byron Leftwich. Between him and Chris Redmon, moving the ball was just not happening. So what do you do? You draft Matt Ryan, who learns the offense in what, two months, and suddenly you have a winning team.

He's a beast. Don't deny it.

Now you can't discount the work of Michael Turner, and the fact that Ronnie Brown hasn't been injured this year and has rushed very well. But Pennington and Ryan are the clear leaders on these teams. Just last game against the Chiefs, Pennington threw for 235 yards with 3 touchdowns. Ryan had that amazing pass to Roddy White that kept his Falcons alive to deflate the bears.

It also makes you think-just how much time does a quarterback need to learn the offense? I've been patient with Redskins' quarterback Jason Campbell for the past two years, because I do think he shows flashes of greatness, and in time, could be a real threat. But seeing what Ryan has done in Atlanta, and looking at the careers of guys like Peyton or Brady, who come right in and make a difference, you start to wonder if maybe the right guy in the right system really can win right away.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In Defense of Terrell Owens

We're back!

I'm not a Terrell Owens fan. Never have been. As a Redskins fan, I couldn't stand him as an Ealge and I sure as hell can't stand him as a Cowboy. I thought the way he went after McNabb, who is a fantastic player and athelete, was disgusting, and I laughed my head off when he openly wept on national tv after losing to the Giants last year. But for once, I find myself in a strange position. I am standing up for Terrell Owens.

Recently, ESPN's Ed Werder reported that Owens has recently been unhappy with the way the offense is being run, and that he feels Tony Romo is targeting Jason Witten over other recievers, most notably, yours truly. ESPN ate this story up, as they do with anything involving the Cowboys, and then proceded to blow it way out of proportion. And for once, I think Owens has been wrongfully accused of tearing the team apart.

Let's look at the facts. Romo targets Witten all the time. He currently leads the team in receptions with 69 (NFL.com), just above Owen's 58 (NFL.com). When Romo is in those tricky 3rd/4th and short situations, Witten is the guy he goes to. Romo and Witten are also very close, you may recall they vacationed last year with Jessica Simpson right before blowing the playoffs. I don't know what kind of idiot spends a bye week before a crucial playoff game on vacation, but that's another story.

The point is, Romo looks to Witten first-the numbers back it up. And on a team with talented recievers like Owens and now Roy Williams (no, Patrick Crayton, you blow), you have to find a way to get the ball to these guys in those situations.

That's my quarterback! And you stole my rubber duckie!

Now apparently, there was a closed door meeting between Owens, Williams, and Crayton (who invited 'ole lead hands??), in which they discussed ways to improve the offense through them with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. How DARE they.

How is this a problem? Instead of doing what he usually does, blab to the media and complain publicly, Owens gathered other members of the team who shared his opinion, and had a private meeting to try and HELP THE TEAM win. Think about it. The boys, at the time, were 8-5, and on the cusp of missing the playoffs. They were going into a game against the Giants, who were shredding the division. It's must win game, and TO wants to be a part of it. So rather than watch his quarterback throw dump offs to his best buddy tight end all game, he said something. Not to a TV camera, not to Stephen A. Smith, but to his offensive coordinator, with his teammates backing him up. For once, Owens made a move to help his team, not himself. And it seems like it paid off on Sunday night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Long Vacation, Blue Nation

I was just scrolling through a couple of my friends' blogs and realized that we are linked on at least three, all with the following caption: (Last posted 3 months ago). Thus I am struck to revive this sleeping giant in the same way Rich Rod will revive Michigan (more to follow). Shylock, to his credit, has reminded me many times that we had to get an update in, but, to his detriment, is constantly asking for ten bucks - so I ignored him.

A few quick hitters from the past three months that might be worth mentioning:

2) We got together in DC, for this.
3) Jimmy was in a movie, and was great.

Now to the main topic, and I promise this is my last post on Michigan until my next post on Michigan: THIS YEAR SUCKED.

You may remember from August a tiny little promise this intrepid reporter made on this very posting medium:

"The University of Michigan Football Team will win 10 games this year."

A self-aggrandizing proclamation of elitist reasoning follows with the ultimate climax in challenging all apologists and "self-proclaimed realists." Needless to say, that humble pie tasted awful, and I ate it all year. It still hurts, in places. This was the worst season in Michigan Football history in terms of losses, and I bet the combined emotional pain of us die-hards. The coaching staff didn't always have the best players on the field on defense (we were running a 3-3-5 until mid-season), and the offense was an unmitigated disaster. Why Justin Feagin was scarcely used is beyond me, and Threet and Sheridan are going to look great carrying clipboards next year. Everyone deserves blame, including Lloyd Carr for putting all his eggs in one basket (Ryan Mallet).

But let not your heart be troubled! After all, it can't get any worse! We have a solid recruiting class coming in with guys like Justin Turner, Anthony LoLata and Craig Roh coming in. Not to mention our two stellar QB recruits: Tate Forcier and well-named Shavodrick Beaver. RichRod is a fantastic coach, has faced adversity at every level and knows how to win. Besides, with the plethora of idiocy that seems to have infected the coaching hirings this off-season (Lane Kiffin to Tennessee? wtf?), who would you rather have?

Michigan will be back. In the mean time, you can watch the basketball team continue to beat top 5 teams. Or you could just stare at beauty too glorious for words:

Monday, September 1, 2008

College Football-Week One

Week one of the college football season has come and gone, and though there were minimal upsets, there's definitely a lot that can still be taken away from this past weekend's games.

1. The ACC is in for another tough year.
I can remember once having a debate with a friend of mine as to which was the stronger conference, the Big Ten or the ACC. Nowadays, you can pretty much flip a coin. The ACC had a terrible opening weekend, highlighted by NC State's goose egg against a mediocre South Carolina team that threw four picks, Alabama's absolute beatdown of what was supposed to be a hugely talented Clemson team, and Maryland beating Delaware by a single touchdown, in a 14-7 game (Delaware!). Power conference, this is not.

2. Georgia will not be in this year's national title game.
This one is more of a prediction than an observation, but taking into account Georgia's brutal schedule (at Arizona State, at LSU, at Auburn), combined with the loss of impact DT Jeff Owens, it's safe to say that Georgia wont be making it to a national title game.

3. Ohio State sure can beat Youngstown.
I know. The Big Ten is a mess. Ohio State has all the talent. They can just walk back in to the national title game. I don't think so. Take a look at that schedule. Ohio State goes to USC, they go to Wisconsin, and they go to Illinois, who beat them last year in their own house. I'm not saying Ohio State can't win all these games, I'm just saying don't just automatically think they're going to the title game. They'll sweat a bit this year. Especially with Beanie Wells' status so uncertain.

4. Juice Williams has evolved into a very talented quarterback.
Missouri proved they are clearly a national title contender. But Juice Williams proved he has grown up as a passer. His passes were placed perfectly, he has great touch on the ball, and he gives the Illini a great chance to take the Big Ten this year (if they can find their run game without Rashard Mendenhall).

Juice is ready to lead the Illini to a Big Ten title and their second consecutive Rose Bowl appearance.

5. Frank Beamer messed up.
Sean Glennon is not the man to lead the Virginia Tech offense. He looked stale, nervous, and unfocused in his two pick, no TD performance against ECU. Tyrod Taylor is the more dyanimc, explosive athlete. He is the future, and he should be starting, not redshirting.

6. Appalacian State was never really that good.
Michigan was just a terrible team last year. Oh, and my final point-

7. Michigan could be this year's Notre Dame.
While Michigan's defense turned it on in the second half, making some key stops, calling the offense horrible is somewhat insulting to the word "horrible." Threet and Sheridan weren't just bad, they were terrible, over and under throwing their recivers and constantly chucking the ball down the field in the hopes that someone would pick it up. That said, this is a growing year for Michigan. Coach Rodriguez's track record shows that after getting the initial growing pains, his teams thrive under his sytem, and once he is able to recruit some players who can actually run his offense, Michigan will be just fine. But something just seems wrong when a season opener loss at the Big House is par for the course.


Monday, August 4, 2008


Folks, the time is almost here. In 24 short days, the college football season will be underway. And thus, it becomes time to discuss, preview, and predict the season. National title picks will come closer to the start of the season, but for now, I'd like to take some time to discuss something that's been confusing me a bit lately.

Penn State Univeristy seems to be getting a lot of attention this preseason, as they do every season, and to be honest, I'm not really sure why. They are listed at 22 in the recent coaches poll, and, as they are every year, will undoubtedly start ranked in the preseason AP poll, or at least, for the first two weeks until they quicky drop out (is this getting old to you too, you old Associated Press, you?)

One look at Penn State's recent history, and it's blatantly obvious this program has been on a steady decline for quite some time now. Over the past ten years, Penn State has had a winning conference record a mere five times ('98, '99, '02, '05, '06), and they have had an overall winning record only six out of those ten times ('98, '99, '02, '05, '06, '07). In those six years, Penn State finished over five hundred by more than five games only twice, in 1999 and 2005, which were also the two only years the program achieved double digit wins (ten and eleven, respectively). And in those ten years, Penn State has made ONE BCS Bowl appearance, in 2006's Orange Bowl (in which the Lions beat Florida State in a game that prominently featured some of the nation's absolute worst field goal kicking ever seen ANYWHERE).

This was probably a miss.

In another bit of recent news, Joe Paterno will be turning eight billion years old this fall, making it even harder for him to keep a grasp on a game that is rapidly getting away from him. The last time a Paterno team was truly dynamic was when it was being quarterbacked by a Chris Robinson, a truly dynamic individual, who wasn't afraid to take the offense into his own hands. Since then, Paterno has coached a traditional three yards and a cloud of dust Big Ten football team, one that is rapidly being passed by by a game that is now more concerned with speed and outsmarting the opponent.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Penn State's discipline issues are way out of control. Just last week, Paterno had to release defensive tackles Chris Barker and Phil Taylor due to off field issues, and this is nothing new for the Nittany Lions. In fact, ESPN reports-"Since 2002, 46 Penn State football players had criminal charges filed against them and 27 either pleaded guilty or were convicted."

Wow. All this, and yet, Penn State will still unquestionably start the season ranked in the AP poll. Makes you wonder about those deserving, mid majors who, even after an undefeated season, still can't ever earn a national title bid...


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dude, Chicks Fighting!

Before everyone jumps on to say that this is a black mark on the sport and it's so ugly to see this, I say GIVE ME MORE! I think the WNBA should use this by putting the next Detroit-LA game on national TV, bill it as "Round 2" and make it explicitly clear to the players that they should fight again.

Ok, that was a little silly. But the WNBA is so utterly boring, they've got to do something so people will want to watch. Bottom line: add a little WWE/MMA to the mix.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

USC-OSU: The Dilemma of the Michigan Fan

On September 13, 2008 the University of Southern California Condoms will face off against the Ohio State University $uckeyes in LA. The game is being hyped as the launching pad for either team's prospective national title run, and (more importantly) puts Michigan fans in a tough spot choosing who to root for.

Already, former USC Heisman Trophy winner (and current Cincinatti Bengals QB) Carson Palmer has weighed in:

"I cannot stand the Buckeyes," Palmer said. "And having to live in Ohio and hear those people talk about their team, it drives me absolutely nuts. ...

"It's amazing to hear what those guys think about that university and what they think about that football program and Tressel and all the crap I gotta put up with being back there.

"I just can't wait for two years from now, when SC comes to the 'Shoe ... and I can go out there and watch us pound them on their own turf and put all the talk to rest, because I'm really getting sick of it.

"I just can't wait for this game to get here so they can come out to the Coliseum and experience L.A. and get a good old-fashioned Pac-10 butt-whuppin' and go back to the Big Ten."

I was in love with Carson until that last sentence. The Buckeye bashing was worthy of a special services to Michigan award until he went elitist on us. He is aghast at the Buckeye fans for their arrogance, and yet makes an unbiased claim that essentially the Pac 10 is better than the Big Ten. Ho hum, just another kick in the face for the conference.

And it leaves all of us Blue fans in a difficult spot: do we root for the team that has beat us in the Rose Bowl and has the elitist feel of the SEC? Or do we............gosh I can't even bring myself to say it..........root......f..or......the.....do I have to say it? No, I won't.

Big Ten pride is on the line. Haters like Dennis Dodd and Gary Danielson are licking their chops at the chance to jump all over the Big Ten and declare it a mid-major conference. I also work with and know some USC grads/students whom I would like nothing better than to give a huge L to, courtesy of the slow, outdated Big Ten conference. USC has been good for a very long time, winning national titles and being the unofficial behemoth in recruiting since 2000. It's time to avenge the Rose Bowl losses by Michigan and Illinois, and I'm sorry to say that as much as I'm going to hate it...I will be...secretly...quietly...rooting...for the...well, you know.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I am not a Cubs fan. I'll say that outright. Living an entire year right next to Wrigley Field and dealing on a daily basis with Cubs fans (aka drunks) was enough to turn me against the Chicago Chokes. But all that said-the Cubs are my pick to win the World Series this year. They have the most consistent hitting, they have solid starters and bullpen guys, and, maybe most importantly, they have the deepest roster in baseball with guys like Reed Johnson and even Ronny Cedeno really stepping up this year. So why on earth are they still shelling $14 million on this guy-

Ah yes, Alfonso Soriano, seen here in an image that captures him doing what it is he does best, injure himself. In fact, in his entire MLB career, Soriano has NEVER played more than 159 games in one season, which he did in 2006 with the lowly Nationals. So far this year, he has only played 51 games for the Cubs, and while he's hit 15 home runs and had 40 RBIs in those games, the fact is, the Cubs do not need him.

Think about it this way. You work in a law firm hiring paralegals. Someone applies to your firm, and tell you they want to work for you, but will only be there 8 out of the 12 months every year. Would you hire this person? No! Of course not! Because you want someone who will be there to work for you year round. It's the same with Soriano. He comes with everything short of a written gaurantee saying "I will get injured, I will cost too much, and I certainly will not play the whole season."

The Cubs are an all around deep enough team that is built to win now, and with the recent addition of Rich Harden to their starting rotation, they have cemented themselves as a playoff contender. The last thing they need to be doing is shelling out money on a brittle, streaky hitter who is selfish and has proven that he is an all around bad presence in the clubhouse.

With the trade deadline approaching, I hope the Cubs put Soriano out there on the block. He's a huge name-they can get great value for him and give their budget some breathing room. But then, if they don't, I don't really care anyway. After all, I'm not a Cubs fan.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Maize Blaze

The University of Michigan Football Team will win 10 games this year. Yes, you read that right.

The University of Michigan Football Team will win 10 games this year.

All of you haters, apologists and self proclaimed realists better recognize -- this is Michigan. I know that the statement above is going to be controversial, but I simply don't understand why. Michigan is the most consistent, elite program in the country. Nobody owns a longer bowl streak record, and in my very (un)biased opinion, I don't see how that streak could be broken.

Long before I roamed the campus in Ann Arbor, I used to attend the games as a high school student. From the very first day I saw a game until the Ohio State loss last year, I had been screaming for a more innovative offense, dynamic quarterbacks (see Germaine Gonzalez over John Navarre) and a better strength and conditioning program -- all of which centered around speed. Now I say the Ohio State loss above because the Florida win in the Capital One Bowl was an example of what Michigan could've/should've/would've been if the change in philosophy had happened sooner. What you saw on January 1st, 2008 was Michigan running the spread offense. Looked pretty good, huh?

But that was then, this is now. We have lost a ton of talent to the NFL Draft, and have largely unproven talent on the offensive side of the ball. But on the other hand, we have an accomplished Spread-N-Shred coach with an innovative mind, not to mention the best strength and conditioning coach on the planet, Mr. Mike Barwis. Read an awesome interview here. We also have real speed in the backfield in Sam McGuffie and some under appreciated talent on defense. None of our QB's are spectacular, but lets assume that Threet, Feagin or Sheridan will be serviceable.

All they have to do is hand off to McGuffie, Brandon Minor or Carlos Brown and throw little passes to our super speedsters in Greg Mathews, Roy Roundtree, Martavious Odoms and Michael Shaw. Make no mistake, Michigan is going to be good this year.

If you still don't believe me, here's the schedule. Remember, Michigan plays 12 regular season games and one bowl game, so is it that unrealistic for them to win 10 and lose 3? Post your predictions in the comments.

August 30*


September 6*

Miami (Ohio)

September 13*

at Notre Dame

September 27


October 4


October 11


October 18

at Penn State

October 25

Michigan State

November 1

at Purdue

November 8

at Minnesota

November 15


November 22

at Ohio State

Saturday, July 12, 2008

He shoots into the secondary...literally...

I don't know about you, but when I read about off season college football news (which I do way too often), I like to hear about things like who's transferring, who's improving, or sleeper BCS picks. So I was pretty ticked off when I went on ESPN.com's college football section and found these stories greeting me.

Michigan RB pleads not guilty to drunken driving
Ohio St.'s Clifford charged with punching 2 in bar
San Jose State LB sentenced to 45 days in jail
Tennessee punter pleads guilty to drunken driving
Indiana reinstates QB Lewis after suspension
Florida State's Bellamy (blood clot) out for season
Louisville WR Spillman dismissed from team

Now, all my sympathies to to Mr. Bellamy, and congrats to Lewis for his reinstatement, but that being said, this is ridiculous! Athletes at the top universities in our nation (Ohio State excluded, obviously) are getting free rides to go to school and are still pulling this kind of junk. It makes me sick. There are hundreds to people who would give anything to play a single down in a college game, and these kids, who get to do it every season, would rather drive drunk and attack people. The NCAA should have a zero tolerance policy for this kind of bull. The fact that five out of seven top stories have NOTHING to do with football, and everything to do with lack of discipline is just sad. And then we wonder why pro athletes get in this kind of trouble-because this stuff has been tolerated for their entire althetic career. It's just something that happens all the time.

I rest my case.