Sunday, September 29, 2013

NFL Week Four's Statements

With two games left in NFL's Week Four, some statements league-wide -



- Taking over the line of scrimmage. Bullying the opposing offense. Delivering huge plays on offense.   The Patriots are rebuilding their offense and the youngsters on offense are steadily getting their act together.    Brady is also showing what makes him elite compared to his arch-rival Peyton Manning - where Peyton has never had to develop entire offenses, Brady has repeatedly done so and is doing so again.

NY JETS - Losing 38-13 is an appropriate Jets outcome, yet as Same Old Jets as it is, Geno Smith cannot get a definitive analysis as a quarterback until 2014, especially as that will be the presumed debut of the new Jets coach favored by the Jets' first-year GM.   In the meantime, Smith has looked bad yet also delivered enough respectable effort to think the Jets can salvage a decent season in what is clearly a transition year.

BILLS - Regardless of circumstances, defeating the defending Superbowl champs is an important step forward for EJ Manuel and the Bills, and is a sign there is something to be confident in down the road.

DOLPHINS - An ugly-looking setback to a Saints team that's becoming elite again - and fast - should not detract that much from what the Dolphins have accomplished in so short a time. 3-1, 15th in both points scored and points allowed - like the Bills the Dolphins have something to be confident in down the road.

STEELERS - While it's rash to think 0-16 for the Steelers, the bottom line remains they are a bad team, even though they made a game out of it against the Vikings.   On all sides of the ball the Steelers are bad, and it's curious some analysts seem surprised since we've seen this building for several years, even when they were posting 12-4 seasons the last few years.  

RAVENS - While the Ravens are in better shape, it's not that much better after blowing up the roster after winning the Superbowl.  Joe Flacco kept whining that he's an elite quarterback, but he's manifestly not, and his five INTs showed that again.

BENGALS - They hit a pothole this week, and may not be quite ready to take the next step. They nonetheless are legitimate.

BROWNS - They are no longer a punchline - they're a team other teams should not want to play; 9-7 or 10-6 suddenly looks like a realistic outcome this year.

TITANS - Jake Locker seemingly cannot catch a break, and this is not intended as a pun.   We hope he comes back sooner rather than later because he showed again with three touchdowns that he can become something.  

COLTS  - The Colts and Titans are now 3-1 and the Colts manhandled a Jaguars squad that had beaten them three times the last two seasons. The Colts are top-ten in scoring - shocker - and are 4th in points allowed.

JAGUARS -  Brett Favre's agent Bus Cook has been floating word that Favre can still play - we wonder if this is aimed at the quarterback-starved Jaguars.  That Blaine Gabbert appears hopeless is all too obvious.

TEXANS - Here is an ominous sign - the Texans blew a 17-point lead to a Seahawks team that had lost over fifty road games 2003-12; it looked disturbingly like those playoff collapses of the Jack Pardee Oilers era.   The Texans showed no sign of advancing to the next level last week; this week they appeared to have regressed more.

BRONCOS - Lost amid the Broncos' scoring explosion (179 points) is the Broncos are mid-pack in points allowed, this with the Broncos still to face San Diego, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Tennessee, New England, and Dallas (a team that's beaten Peyton Manning the last two times the Cowboys have faced him).   That the Broncos are a very good team is undeniable; what's been lost is they're not as good as people seem to think they are.

CHIEFS - 4-0 is amazing and a sign the Chiefs are for real, but they too will face some teams who've manhandled Andy Reid, notably Tennessee and Indianapolis, not to mention the rest of the AFC West, a division clearly much better than it's been the last few years.

CHARGERS - San Diego rallied to beat the Cowboys, a nice recovery from a bitter defeat last week.

RAIDERS - Not only did the Raiders blow a winnable game, their handling of Terrelle Pryor's injury was head-scratching and then some.



The Panthers and Packers had their bye week.

COWBOYS - They did it again, blowing a lead and thus falling.    Tony Romo actually played well until Terence Williams fumbled late; even so Tony Romo continues not to show ability to pull off wins like this.

NY GIANTS - Andy Reid manhandled the Giants again.  Only two words come to mind here - complete collapse.   We're waiting for the first scuttlebutt of a successor to Tom Coughlin.

EAGLES - After so spectatcular a first half against the Redskins, the Eagles' terrible performance since then has no doubt surprised people. They may get some help as the schedule takes a potential turn for the better.

REDSKINS - They didn't look all that good beating the Raiders; that's not a good sign going forward.

VIKINGS - Lost amid everything else is the Vikings are scoring a lot, and this time they finally made a game-winning stop.  

LIONS - The Lions got a needed win having lost nine of their previous eleven games against the Bears.   That the Lions are winning suggests those controversies about team discipline may have brought on improved play.

BEARS - So are the Bears phonies after all?   Partly.   Jay Cutler threw three INTs, but overall his play has looked better and Marc Trestman is showing he's legitimate as an NFL coach.

SAINTS - New Orleans may have to change its official theme song, because right now the Saints are Breezing. There was an issue with turnovers in the Monday Night win, though.  

FALCONS  - Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback. The Falcons are not an elite team. Both are good to very good, but they plateaued in 2008-9; they have shown they cannot advance to the next level.

- One has to wonder whether Greg Schiano may be in more trouble now after the switch in quarterbacks produced an ugly loss.

SEAHAWKS - The Seahawks suddenly look even better than expected in pulling off a big comeback win on the road; as mentioned above they have been one of the league's worst road teams.  

49ERS - San Francisco showed a return to form in manhandling the Rams though they're not all that good at keeping points off the board (presently 18th in points allowed).

RAMS - Suddenly the Rams look like a team in freefall, and with USC's surprise coaching change the rumor of Jeff Fisher going there will likely return (though Denver's Jack Del Rio has also been mentioned for USC).

CARDINALS - The good news is they're 2-2.  The bad news is they're bottom-third in offense and defense and Carson Palmer isn't particularly good.

With that, we count down to Week Five.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week Three's Top Ten

There are always big storylines in the NFL and Week Three had its share -


1 - Aaron Rodgers Is Proving His Critics Right - Before the 2011 season came two pieces showing that Aaron Rodgers is not capable of comeback wins. Now we see Green Bay's 34-30 loss to the Bengals where the Packers erased a 14-0 gap, led 30-14, and lost.   During that game Rodgers was seen arguing with head coach Mike McCarthy and another player having to step in.   It brings back memory of two former Packers receivers ripping Rodgers' locker room demeanor.

The reality is Rodgers is the a-hole he's been portrayed as being.   He's stuck-up, full of himself, and every bit the dopey gunslinger Brett Favre was.   And the result will be the Packers may win a lot of games but will still lose in the end.

2 - Yes Bill Belichick Should Be Trusted - The Boston Globe Magazine published a piece on Bill Belichick that was mostly a compedium of criticisms and outright mockery. There are some positives portrayed about Belichick but for the most part the piece wants the reader to hate him for being stand-offish, dishonest, etc.

The piece references Spygate several times, and it is obvious a refresher on the facts is needed. Belichick is also criticized for ostensibly poor drafting, and the piece even sees fit to include Wes Welker's self-pitying quote about thinking about Belichick during Broncos pressers.

Here are the hard facts about why Belichick is more trustworthy than the Boston Globe -

Belichick tells the truth.

Belichick has been the best GM in the NFL for 13 years; the Steelers, the Ravens, the Colts, the NY Giants, etc. cannot credibly be portrayed as better.

Belichick understands roster construction because he doesn't fall in love with Names (Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Richard Seymour etc.) and doesn't fall in love with volume stats.

The players let go by Belichick have all proven inferior to the system in Foxboro (yes even Wes Welker, who's been irrelevant to the Broncos despite his volume stats there).

Belichick doesn't play the media game because the media game accomplishes nothing as far as winning goes.

3 - The AFC in not weaker than the NFC
- This past weekend saw eight interconference games and the AFC won six of them.   In all the AFC has won eleven interconference games.

4 - The Browns aren't giving up on the season - Brian Hoyer took over as quarterback and pulled off the most exciting win for the Browns perhaps in the history of the club's present incarnation, this following the unusual early-season trade of Trent Richardson and scuttlebutt that a receiver or two are on the auction block as well.   There are legitimate pieces with the Browns right now.

5 - The AFC South is a three-team race - Indianapolis and Tennessee pulled off quality wins - the Colts pummelled the 49ers at The Stick a week after a bitter loss to the Dolphins, while the Titans defeated the Chargers for the first time since 1992, and did so in comeback style; it showed that Jake Locker can play, and it was a comeback win after he struggled in comeback situations in 2011 and 2012.   This came all amid Houston's ugly loss at Baltimore, putting the Colts, Titans, and Texans at a 2-1 logjam in the division.

6 - The AFC East is becoming a multi-team race - New England and Miami are 3-0 while the Jets are 2-1; the Bills are 1-2 but are 10th in the league in turnover differential and EJ Manuel is looking like a rookie with a solid future.

7 - The AFC West may become a three-team race  - The Broncos have the most explosive offense in the conference but haven't really been tested yet; San Diego is better than last year and Kansas City has vaulted to 3-0 with successful formulae from their past - they used to be 49ers East with quarterbacks (and they still are); now they are also Eagles West with coaches.   Even the Raiders, while not ready for primetime, have some positive energy with Terrelle Pryor.

8 - The AFC North is the weakest division in the conference - The Bengals are the best team in the division and even the Browns look good.   The Ravens are 2-1 but their schedule takes what looks to be a turn for the worse with road games at Miami and Buffalo in the next two weeks.    The Steelers meanwhile have collapsed and their season is staring at their first losing record in ten years.

9 -The NFC South is - for the moment - a New Orleans party - The Bucs are in disarray despite being respectable on defense; the Falcons are good but got exposed as beatable by the Dolphins.   The Saints are 3-0 after two shaky performances, while the Panthers got on the board by destroying the same NY Giants squad that embarrassed them last season.   The Panthers can make a run at the Saints and the Falcons are certainly not out of it.

10 - It's overdue to question the coaching competence of Mike Shanahan - the Redskins are 0-3 and a lot of talk has centered around Robert Griffin, yet questions should be asked of coach Mike Shanahan, who has still not shown he can win a lot since John Elway retired and has shown no answers to Washington's on-field issues.

That's the Top Ten for this week.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

NFL Week Three Bottom Lines

Week Three of the NFL season has proceded and here are the bottom lines league-wide -



PATRIOTS - The rookie receivers are starting to get it together, and the injured veterans are coming back sooner instead of later.

DOLPHINS - They are showing they have to be taken seriously.

NY JETS - Geno Smith is beginning to make a case for himself.

BILLS - EJ Manuel had a rookie finish to a winnable game.

STEELERS - They're stuck in mediocrity.

RAVENS - They're not that much better, but they're better.

BENGALS - Even when they play like the Same Old Bungles, they're not.

BROWNS - Don't be fooled by them beating an 0-3 team - there are legitimate competitive pieces here.

COLTS - Andrew Luck finally won a game without heart attacks.

TITANS - Jake Locker can play; the Titans will contend.

TEXANS - They have shown again they can't take the next step.

JAGUARS - The transition era will continue to hurt.

BRONCOS - They're as good as advertised, yet they haven't been tested yet.

CHARGERS - They're better than 1-2 and will contend.

CHIEFS - The Chiefs are for real by reclaiming two proven formulae - a former 49ers quarterback and a former Eagles coach.

RAIDERS - They haven't shown they're getting better, but Terrelle Pryor gives reason for better than what they've done since the end of 2002.



COWBOYS - Don't buy the hype.

NY GIANTS - Second-half collapses are the staple of Tom Coughlin's Giants; his tenure may be imploding now.

REDSKINS - Griffin III's poor play has gotten the attention, but the Skins have deeper issues of a flawed-looking roster and a complete lack of answers from Shanahan.

EAGLES - The first half against the Redskins masked a hard truth - Chip Kelly's program needs time to truly become a force.

PACKERS - Green Bay's inability to stage a comeback win  was showcased in hilarious fashion in the loss to the Bengals.

VIKINGS - They're 0-3 but they've played more than well enough to have won at least once.  

BEARS - Marc Trestman may have achieved the impossible in making Jay Cutler look good.

LIONS - Detroit can contend.

PANTHERS - They got the win they needed and their schedule takes a decided turn for the better after their Bye.

FALCONS - They're not as strong as advertised.

SAINTS - After two shaky performances they did what good teams do.

BUCCANEERS - Why is Josh Freeman still starting?

SEAHAWKS - They've been scary good this year, but they're not necessarily better than last year.

49ERS - Colin Kaepernick has fallen apart and a criticism I've heard is he's not adapting that well to pass-first quarterbacking.

RAMS - Suddenly we need to ask - has Jeff Fisher plateaued as a coach?

CARDINALS - They're the Same Old Cardinals again.  

So it goes until Week Four.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

NFL Week Two Quick Views

Some quick views on the NFL as Week Two wraps up -



With the Patriots, it's time to ignore the noise.   The analyses of Tom Brady's eruptions during New England's 13-10 win over the NY Jets became over-analyses quickly, becoming indictments of Bill Belichick as GM and indictments of Brady for ostensibly not working enough with his new receivers.

Here's the deal - the issues with the receivers are correctable with time and game snaps.   Bringing in a veteran receiver like Donte Stallworth is not a bad idea, but between the return (sooner rather than later) of Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski and more reps by the rookie receivers, the offense will improve.   As for Belichick as GM, his superiority over the rest of the league as such remains obvious to anyone not blinded by hatred.

The Jets meanwhile despite genuinely encouraging play by Geno Smith showcased how abysmally constructed a unit they are with a glaring lack of discipline; the sideline brawl instigated by a low hit to Aqib "Aquaman" Talib was the kind of punkish behavior befitting Rex Ryan's dad Buddy and inevitable as a result.

The Bills and Dolphins meanwhile showcased inspired play; Miami won against Indianapolis for the first time since 2002 while Buffalo, once the NFL's king of comebacks (just ask Warren Moon), pulled off another with E.J. Manuel.   They may not be strong enough to contend for the playoffs,  but there is reason for some optimism with both.


Don't be encouraged by Baltimore's grinding win over Cleveland - it showed fight by Joe Flacco but hardly enough to warrant optimism.    Cleveland's loss showed how long the road to respectability remains.

Likewise Cincinnati's win over Pittsburgh merely showed the Bengals to be good, not great, and it showed the Steelers have fallen apart.   The O-line is poor, but curiously we haven't seen questioning of the wisdom of having Todd Haley on the coaching staff, given Haley's public flameouts in previous NFL jobs and given the Steelers have lost ten games with him there.


Indianapolis and Tennessee showcased heartbreak with losses in winnable games; for the Titans in particular it was a setback despite noticeable improvement on both sides of the ball; indeed, one should be concerned because we know Indianapolis will contend for the playoffs, and now Tennessee has reason to feel likewise.   Houston meanwhile staged a second straight comeback win, and with a potentially reinvigorated division it's a needed showcase of fight.

It further illustrates how far the Jaguars have fallen, showing zero life in two games.


Denver of course pummelled the NY Giants and look as good as advertised.   Defensively, though, they don't look any better than last year, and there are teams that know how to beat Jack Del Rio defenses.   As for much-publicized free agent Wes Welker, he may not reach 100 catches this year as his catches were limited to three with three drops and nowhere has he done anything to help the offense outside of ride the wave and pile up volume stats - the touchdown catches certainly help, but his game is not as good as the acolytes back in New England want to think.

San Diego meanwhile made a statement in coming back to beat the much-hyped Chip Kelly Eagles in Philly.   Blowing a 21-point lead last week is the kind of loss that sends teams into a spiral; the Chargers instead faced down the Eagles and pulled off a dramatic win.  

Also making a statement is Kansas City, beating the Cowboys and now standing 2-0; another ex-Eagles coach is reviving the Chiefs, though unlike Dick Vermeil the Chiefs' offensive and special teams eruptions haven't happened yet.

Even the Oakland Raiders have some reason for optimism with Terrelle Pryor, though the win over the moribund Jaguars didn't impress anyone.



Despite being 1-1 the Eagles are clearly in charge of this division with a firepower not seen in years.   Chip Kelly is proving one of the most inspiring coaching choices for the NFL in years.  

Contrast this with the Redskins, 0-2 and who need to question the competence of Mike Shanahan, whose reputation as a coach has long been inflated; his record since John Elway's retirement isn't particularly impressive and his inability to develop quarterbacks has long been his most distinguishing characteristic.  

The there is the NY Giants, also 0-2 with Tom Coughlin more and more looking in over his head; fast season starts are always followed by second-half collapses and that Coughlin won two Superbowls remains mystifying.  

Then there are the Dallas Cowboys, as mediocre as they've been under Tony Romo and they have no potential because Romo is what he is - a bum.

NORTH - Vikings-Bears games at Soldier Field have with some frequency seen amazing shootouts; this shootout was doubly so given that Jay Cutler pulled off a comeback win, where he usually gags.   It was another heartbreak for the now-0-2 Vikings despite strong play in both games.

The Packers got an opportunity to stage a frontrunning game and thus took advantage of it; as long as they can jump out to big leads the Packers remain strong, now 1-1.

The Detroit Lions alas have played from behind almost every game of recent and couldn't pull it off this time, not an encouraging sign with them 1-1.


The Falcons jumped out to a big lead but had to sweat out the win.   After two games they don't look as strong as some have advertised them to be.

The Saints meanwhile have jumped to the division lead despite poor play by Drew Brees against the Bucs, who gagged again, this time by missing a late field goal; this loss comes amid reports of serious dissension within the team and with play by quarterback Josh Freeman that simply isn't encouraging.

Exactly the opposite is the case with Cam Newton, who showed fight in Carolina's game at Buffalo, and yet the Panthers can't seem to get anything going early in a season.


The Rams have been competitive in both games and are 1-1, so where are the rumors that Jeff Fisher will bolt for USC coming from?  

Also 1-1 are the Cardinals and they've shown some legitimate fight under Bruce Arians, whose catchphrase appears to be "Ya Gotta Believe."   So far, so good on that front.

The two top dogs of the division clashed amid a lightning delay (the second of the day after the Bucs-Saints game) and the Seahawks for the second straight time manhandled the 49ers.  That bodes well for the division being the league's most competitive.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Debunking Three Patriots Myths

NOTE: This piece has been expanded and updated from its previous incarnation:

Two games into the season and two grinding performances by the New England Patriots have brought out scathing criticisms of Patriots receivers, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, even Robert Kraft. The criticisms have been everywhere and numerous times the claim is made that the Patriots have in some sense lost their way in how the roster is constructed, how they won Superbowls, etc. It's time to debunk some myths past and present about the Patriots -

MYTH: The Patriots had a great defense and playmakers on defense when they won Superbowls and have lost their last two Superbowls becuase they depended too much on the offense - Over and over we get reminder that the Patriots had "playmakers" in the halcyon days of 2001-4 - Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Willie Mcginest, etc.

The facts are different.   The Patriots defense was gashed for yards and often for points and the offense regularly carried the defense.   Indeed, prominent critic Michael Felger, during his days as Boston Herald beat writer for the team, wrote in November 2001 following New England's 21-11 win over Buffalo, "Finally, the defense carried the offense," an obvious implication that the offense had been carrying the defense.  

The 2001 Patriots were sixth in the league in scoring and went 11-5 en route to the first Superbowl.   2002 the offense went into transition and the Patriots went 9-7; the 2002 defensive squad was particularly ineffective against the AFC West (a division long the bete noire of the Patriots).   In 2003 the Patriots famously cut Lawyer Milloy and signed Rodney Harrison, and once more the offense wound up carrying a defense that nonetheless was #1 in fewest points allowed in the league - against Tennessee the Patriots offense had to score in a game where the lead changed seven times (38-30 was the final); the defense was gashed in the fourth quarter and overtime in Miami, surviving two botched field goal attempts (one blocked) before finally intercepting Jay Fiedler; Brady then unloaded the winning bomb to Troy Brown (19-13 OT was the final); in Denver the defense got gashed for points and Brady won it with 30 seconds to go (30-26 was the final);  at Indianapolis the defense (aided by two ugly interceptions from Brady) blew a 21-point lead, though it redeemed itself with the famous goalline stand (38-34 final).

That the offense ultimately carried the defense showed in the need for Tom Brady heroics in the playoffs - in the famous "Tuck Rule" win over the Oakland Raiders in 2001 Brady had to lead three scoring drives in the fourth quarter and overtime to pull off the 16-13 win; five years later at San Diego Brady had to lead two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to pull off the 24-21 win.   

Then there were the first two Superbowls - the defense blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead to the Rams then got ripped to shreds by Jake Delhomme's Panthers - against almost any other team Delhomme's Panthers would have won the Superbowl.   It was the offense that won those games.

The defense was carried again in 2004 - the running game of Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk proved decisive against Indianapolis and the offense ripped the famed Steelers defense to shreds; in the Superbowl the defense gave up a late touchdown.

Of course the defense - after blowing a fourth quarter lead and then getting it back thanks to Brady and Randy Moss - got killed by the ultimate fluke play in Superbowl history in Superbowl XLII.

The Patriots defense certainly made numerous key plays, but it got a lot of benefit of the doubt even though it was not the key to winning those championships.   The fact is the offense has been the key, then and now.

MYTH: Wes Welker was a crucial, irreplaceable weapon for the Patriots and letting him walk is badly hurting the Patriots offense - Acolytes of Wes Welker make two graphic mistakes in overselling his importance to the Patriots offense - they fall in love with a Name, and they fall in love with volume stats. Welker has become a Name; he is recognized right away and thus people associate him with a level of importance beyond belief.   They also look at his volume stats - the catches, the yards - and assume they make him too important to have let go.

The problem is when you look beyond the volume stats Welker is not as good as advertised.   This first showed in Week One with the Broncos against the Ravens - he caught four of Peyton Manning's first five completions - and the Broncos offense went nowhere.   They stopped throwing to him in the first quarter and it wasn't until the third - indeed in Denver's first three touchdown drives Welker caught just one pass - that the Broncos started throwing to him again. 

It showed even more in Denver's blowout win over the NY Giants - Welker was limited to three catches for 39 yards and a score; he also had three drops.

Contrast this with the Patriots and Welker's replacement Danny Amendola, who against Buffalo outright took over the Patriots offense in the fourth quarter and played with a physicality Welker did not show either in New England or with Denver - Amendola was outright making catches running over people.  

People also seem to forget that Julian Edelman outplayed Welker in 2012; Welker lost his starting job and got it back due to other player injuries.    People like to cite his durability, but that's just hype - it was luck that his near-disasterous injury in 2009 was at the end of the season.  

The fact is the struggles in the early part of 2013 would not have been avoided if Welker were still with the Patriots. 

MYTH: This is reminiscent of the 2006 season where Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney replaced the more reliable Deion Branch and David Givens and it was a failure
- Deion Branch and David Givens were overrated receivers and the 2006 season wound up proving that.   The 2005 Patriots - Branch and Givens' last season in New England - were tenth in scoring and went 10-6.   Branch famously wanted his contract torn up and redone; the Patriots refused to go along and he wound up going to the Seahawks.  Reche Caldwell became the most productive receiver while Jabar Gaffney played eleven games with six starts and didn't get going until late in the season.

The 2006 Patriots surged to seventh in scoring and scored the most points (95) in a playoff run of any Patriots team.   Caldwell is regularly ripped for two drops in the AFC Championship Game, never mind that receiver drops are universal to receivers - the fact is Caldwell's gaffes were not relevant to the game's outcome.   He also posted the same average yardage (60 per game in three playoff games) as Branch in his to that point six non-Superbowl playoff games.  

Reche Caldwell was really an upgrade over Deion Branch - Caldwell kept his mouth shut and was better as a deep threat, shown in deep-bomb scores against Green Bay and Tennessee and the key play of the playoff game at San Diego - the 50-yard strike before the two-minute warning setting up the winning field goal.  

2006 was anything but a disaster for the Patriots.

The Patriots need to keep going; the errors made by the rookie receivers will be corrected with more time, and the Patriots simply are too fundamentally sound a system to falter as other teams such as the Ravens have recently done.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Reversing Reverse Payments: The Actavis Decision

A court ruling on pharmaceutical patent payments is being cheered as a loss for big companies - except the fine print indicates true innovation may suffer.

How Australia's Election Compares With America's

The Liberal Party lost after it put policies to work - and those policies again didn't work.

Hesitation, Delay, and Unreliability

Want to know why Obama is losing on Syria? It's not because defeating Islamo-Arab imperialism is a bad idea.

NFL Week One - Ten Observations

Ten observations from Week One of the 2013 NFL season -

1 - ONCE AGAIN GREEN BAY LOSES A GAME WHERE IT HAD TO LEAD A COMEBACK - It has been known for several years that the Packers are not a team to stage a comeback with Aaron Rodgers as quarterback. It showed up again at San Francisco as Colin Kaepernick played like a real quarterback - a pocket passer - and put up 412 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-28 Niners win. The game lead tied or changed eight times and Rodgers did lead a touchdown drive halfway through the fourth quarter, but the Niners retook the lead and Rodgers flamed out needing to lead a comeback - again.

2 - THE AFC NORTH ISN'T AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED - All four AFC North teams lost. The only real surprise was Cincinnati, which blew a lead in Chicago. Baltimore's roster unheaval in the offseason left people wondering what would result this year; we now saw the result in a collapse of the Ravens game with the loss of one punt returner. The Steelers had lost nine of their previous seventeen games so this loss to the Titans was no shock.

3 - THE PATRIOTS OFFENSE NEEDS TIME UNDER FIRE - There were numerous shaky performances league-wide, and none more surprising given expectations coming out of the preseason than New England. The revamped receiver corps looked stout in preseason; in Buffalo though the Bills defense proved stouter than thought and the poor performance of preseason breakout start Kembrell Thompkins was disconcerting. Danny Amendola then erupted for the game winning drives. Already some have called for signing back Brandon Lloyd or Deion Branch, but if the Patriots do sign a veteran to help out Donte Stallworth still has legs and ability to break tackles. Even with that, time under fire will gel this group.

4 - THE BUCS BLOW IT AGAINST THE JETS - There are several reasons why the Bucs have never taken the next step after a promising 2010 season, and one of them showed up in the Lavonte David penalty at the end of the fourth quarter; it gave the Jets the life needed for the winning field goal. Undisciplined play always hurts. The Bucs got a decent performance out of Josh Freeman but the fact he was outplayed in the preseason is a bad sign for him down the road.

5 - THE TITANS CAN GO PLACES THIS YEAR - It remains perplexing that Jake Locker's accuracy remains an issue (11-20 for just 125 yards) for the talent is there to get better; it showed in solid preseason play and should show in this season down the road. The big improvement for the Titans is Gregg Williams on their staff; the Titans defense sacked Roethlisberger five times and forced two turnovers.

6 - THE RAIDERS MAY ACTUALLY IMPROVE THIS YEAR - Terrelle Pryor's two interceptions were ugly, and ruined an otherwise inspired performance that gave the Colts as big a scare as seen in awhile.

7 - WES WELKER IS NOT DANNY AMENDOLA - It keeps getting cited about the Patriots letting Wes Welker walk in free agency and instead going with injury-prone Danny Amendola. Welker in his debut game at Denver caught four of Peyton Manning's first five receptions and the offense went nowhere; they stopped throwing to him for awhile and the offense then got in gear (the first three Denver touchdown drives saw Welker make one catch); Welker then got five more catches and two scores. Nowhere did Welker do anything more than ride the wave and put up some volume stats; in contrast Danny Amendola took over the game in Buffalo when there wasn't anyone else to get the ball.

 8 - THE GIANTS ARE WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT - In the fourth quarter at Dallas Eli Manning threw three touchdowns - but one of them was a Cowboys pick-six. The Giants committed six turnovers and coach Tom Coughlin was throwing running back David Wilson under the bus after the game.

9 - MARK SANCHEZ IS DONE - Mark Sanchez was whining before the game that he expects the Jets to look for a reason to put him on IR. It just shows what a waste of space he is.

 10 - CAROLINA AGAIN IS OFF TO A BAD START - Despite limiting the Seahawks to just twelve points, the Panthers lost to a notoriously poor road team. Why the Panthers cannot get off to fast starts is puzzling.

And so it is on to Week Two.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

More Palestinian Dishonesty

The Palestinians are savages.   Don't believe me?   Here are more examples.

John Kerry's Syria meltdown

John Kerry like Barack Obama regularly changes his views because he doesn't know what he's doing.

Green Jobs Report from the Government Accountability Office

The GAO confirms again that the environment is not helped by "green jobs."

Will Obama Continue to React to Events or Instead Try to Shape Them?

Obama's entire approach of leading from behind has blown up again as he has to be shamed into doing the right thing instead of shaping events - the usual Democratic approach to crises.

‘Barbarians Are Barbaric’

Obama has always been a coward when dealing with America's enemies.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Previewing NFL 2013

And so the preseason is done and we await the opening of the NFL's 94th season, beginning with Thursday Night Football as the Baltimore Ravens opene at the Denver Broncos, a rematch of 2012's epic 38-35 double-OT playoff upset. A look at the teams entering Week One -

AFC EAST --- By far the most ready team is the New England Patriots, having overhauled their receiving corps and made their roster younger over the last few seasons. An ugly 40-9 preseason loss at Detroit showcased vulnerability, but overall the Patriots remain the AFC team most likely to go to the Superbowl.

The Miami Dolphins are the only squad in the division looking to be getting better, as they have a program behind Ryan Tannehill that showed capability in 2012 and in this preseason.   It's nowhere close to challenging the Patriots but 9-7 isn't out of reach anymore.

The Buffalo Bills have a new program, new coach, and new quarterback, and an ugly preseason to show for it.   Doug Marrone came from Syracuse to provide some fresh ideas to a notoriously stale program, and EJ Manuel will likely need a lot of time to get something going.

The New York Jets have sunk back to the level of league joke between the buffoonish head coach in Rex Ryan and a new GM in John Idzik (whose dad was on Walt Michaels' NY Jets staff) and indecision on what to do with the inept Mark Sanchez and with the rookie in Geno Smith who looked bad in preseason.  

AFC SOUTH --- This may be the deepest division in the AFC. The Indianapolis Colts exploded back to league prominence with a new quarterback and new front office regime, and Andrew Luck looks ready for a long and profitable career proceding where Peyton Manning left off.

The Houston Texans now have their program humming, though one should wonder how much more Matt Schaub has left and whether there is any ability to elevate his game; he's been a very good quarterback but has never been able to become elite.

The Tennessee Titans are the sleeper team of the division, having quietly shown substantial improvement on both sides of the ball in preseason.   A lot of analysis seems to down Jake Locker, yet unnoticed by the sports media is that Locker has been switched to a shorter passing game and seems to be thriving in it; the Titans run game appears to have also gotten some jolt with ex-Jet Shonn Greene.  

Even the Jacksonville Jaguars, who fell to one of the worst teams in the league last year, have shown some reason for optimism.   Blaine Gabbert was awful in 2012 yet in preseason this year actuallyn showed real improvement.    

AFC NORTH --- The Baltimore Ravens are defending Superbowl champs, and famously blew up their roster to get younger, especially on defense, and yet one doesn't know what to expect here - preseason was decidedly mixed and showed reason for doubt (especially on offense), yet the Ravens have been perhaps the most consistent challenger in the league since 2000.

The Cincinnati Bengals are widely considered a favorite for the division, having gone 19-13 with Andy Dalton and AJ Green showing an elevation of the game not really shown by Carson Palmer or the receiver tandem of Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh as good as they undoubtedly where.   Preseason didn't leave any reason to doubt the optimism here.

The surprise team may be the Cleveland Browns, who showed marked improvement in preseason.   The Browns have been almost an expected last-place team for years; that may not be the case in 2013.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the team in trouble, with mediocre showing on both sides of the ball and more abuse of Ben Roethlisberger as a result.   Having lost nine of their last seventeen games, one has reason for pessimism in Pittsburgh. 

AFC WEST --- The Denver Broncos are widely expected to go to the Superbowl thanks to the acquistion of receiver Wes Welker.   The Broncos certainly are strong enough to go 12-4 or better but in preseason showed disturbingly mediocre performance in Ones vs. Ones - that Peyton Manning couldn't keep up with the Seahawks Ones in that game is a red flag; that Welker was injured and missed two games is another.   That Manning is a notoriously poor playoff quarterback is the wall stopping the Broncos right now.

Problem is no one else in the division looks any good.   Kansas City is rebuilding under Andy Reid and may take time; the Oakland Raiders are a mess - again; the San Diego Chargers showed zero improvement in preseason.

NFC EAST --- A public disagreement between Robert Griffin III and coach Mike Shanahan showcased the dysfunction that has permeated the Washington Redskins under onwer Daniel Snyder. Despite this the Skins are the strongest team in the division.

The NY Giants are the strongest challenger yet also the most uneven, racing out of the box fast and then collapsing in the second half virtually every year under Tom Coughlin.   A decidedly poor preseason gives no reason for optimism here.

The Dallas Cowboys remain a joke under Tony Romo and at this stage of his career nothing will change for him.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a new program and are counting on Michael Vick to actually improve his game after he regressed at doing so after 2010.  

NFC SOUTH --- Sean Payton is back with the New Orleans Saints and team-wide improvement seems palpable already, yet even with Payton the Saints have put up huge numbers and many wins yet the aura of invincibility isn't there.

The Atlanta Falcons have for now taken over the division, yet their inability to elevate to the next level remains.

The slepper team is the Carolina Panthers, as Cam Newton quietly showed marked improvement last last year and defensively the Panthers appear better now.  

The Tampa Bay Bucs have talent all around but have a quarterback problem, as Mike Glennon has outplayed Josh Freeman at quarterback.   Freeman may not last the first half of the season here.

NFC NORTH --- Most people are picking the Green Bay Packers to easily win here. I'm not so sure. By far the most overrated contender in the league is Green Bay; the infamous Seahawks game last year was not about the Packers getting robbed (they didn't get robbed) - it was about the Packers getting exposed.   When they frontrun, they're good; when they have to fight to hold a lead or they fall behind, they have shown they can't lead a comeback, especially Aaron Rodgers, the weakest fourth-quarter quarterback in the league.  

The Minnesota Vikings didn't show as much muscle in preseason as I thought they would and may be in for a tough season.

The Chicago Bears have a new coach but with Jay Cutler they have little realistic chance; Cutler is a volume-stats quarterback with no guts.

The Detriot Lions have huge talent yet zero discipline; they play to hit people and they don't care if its clean or not; it won them the game against the Patriots but won't do anything in the regular season.

NFC WEST --- By far the two best teams in the NFC are the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, and with Russell Wilson the Seahawks may be the better team.   Pete Carroll is proving his critics wrong; he is a bona fide NFL coach.  The 49ers will have their work cut out for them.

This is especially true given that the St. Louis Rams and Jeff Fisher had the best division record in the NFC West, but a mediocre preseason didn't give much room for optimism.   The Rams need to show firepower and fast.

The Arizona Cardinals still look awful, as much as I like Bruce Arians as coach.


My predicition here is the AFC sees seven teams battling for six playoff spots come December  - New England and Denver lock up their divisions while Indy, Houston, Tennessee, Cincy, and Baltimore battle for four playoff spots and Cleveland actually makes some noise there.

In the NFC the Niners and Hawks will easily make the postseason while the Skins, Falcons, and Packers win their divisions; the Panthers and Saints will be in a fight for a wildcard spot while the Rams may play spoiler.

So let's kick off 2013.

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