Sunday, September 28, 2014

NFL And Who Is Starting While Who Is Finished

It's Week Four of the NFL season and already we have some strong clues about who's going somewhere and who is going nowhere.  


The Patriots fail on defense  - The issue for the Patriots entering the Kansas City game was the offensive line specifically and the offense overall; both showed genuine improvement overall. Tom Brady also started throwing to other receivers, and Brandon Lafell showed some excellent play, both with Brady and with Jimmy Garropolo.

The real problem, though, is the defense failed entirely - the defensive line was bowled over by the Chiefs and Darrelle Revis more and more is proving he is a fraud with inability to stop receivers he was long advertised as owning.   Teams going forward will stop being afraid of him.   


AFC East Still Struggles - We start with a curious dynamic in Miami - Ryan Tannehill in effect declared himself the starter for the London game against the Raiders, and thus showed up his coach - and the result was perhaps Tannehill's best game as a starter.   It was against the Raiders, we understand, it nonetheless is what good teams do to bad.   Now we see if the Dolphins get something rolling here.

Not getting anything rolling were the Bills or the Jets - E.J. Manuel blew it in the final minutes at Houston and the Bills have panicked - never a good reaction - and benched Manuel for longtime washout Kyle Orton.  

Meanwhile it gets worse for Geno Smith as the crowd at the Jets' loss to the Lions began chanting for Michael Vick - this with a Jets coaching staff that has lost control of its team and isn't all that competent overall.  The only question is why the Jets are able to prevent their defeats from being multi-touchdown routs.


NFC East begins to surprise  - Suddenly the NY Giants look like a better offense, the Washington Redskins showcase the worst quarterback meltdown since Kordell Stewart in the 2001 playoffs, the Cowboys are surging like we haven't seen since the halcyon days of the 1990s, and the Eagles offense grinds to a complete halt.   The inability of the Eagles to win a game where the 49ers were doing everything wrong was jaw-dropping, while Kirk Cousins fell apart graphically against the Giants, who exploded to more points than we've seen out of them in years and who now look comfortable with their new offense.   And speaking of comfortable, Tony Romo is getting success beyond his competence as a quarterback - and that's scary.


Ravens surge while Steelers again melt down
- The winless Bucs started Mike Glennon, and Glennon took a touchdown gap and pierced the Steelers with it, winning the game 27-24, Pittsburgh's nineteenth loss in the club's last 37 games - yet another sign the Steelers organization has lost ability to build championship squads.  

The Baltimore Ravens meanwhile have their own amazing dynamic working - they've gotten a lot of inflammatory press the last few weeks and have turned it into a surging 2014 season.   Stevonne Smith's eruption against the Panthers highlighted this surge back to playoff contention after 2013's meltdown.


Will the NFC North rise again?
- The Packers beat the Bears - no shock there.   The Lions beat the NY Jets - if anything the Lions should be angry they won by only one touchdown.   The real shock, though, is the Minnesota Vikings, who started Teddy Bridgewater and suddenly showcased firepower akin to the 1998 Vikes - especially in winning a shootout with the Falcons by two touchdowns.  

Suddenly the NFC North may be an open contest, though injury to Bridgewater bears monitoring.


AFC South isn't changing
- Houston and Indianapolis lead the division and that appears to be it right now despite Indy's slow start.   Tennessee's season may already be over - Ken Whisenhunt benched Jake Locker ostensibly for a wrist injury but it makes me wonder if he was looking for an excuse to start Charlie Whitehurst; the result was ugly and embarrassing.   The Titans have a superbly talented roster but haven't shown the fight they had under Mike Munchak and quarterback controversy only makes things worse.

The Jaguars have been in rebuilding mode and they'll have to accept that right now.


NFC South gets burned
- The Panthers got blasted, the Saints got humiliated, and the Falcons got shot down, while the Bucs salvaged a win.   The division that appeared to be as strong as any suddenly isn't that good, especially for a Saints team that, far from contending as usual, is now in danger of failing to reach 8-8.


San Diego claws to contention while Kansas City claws back into it
 - With the Raiders done and the Broncos licking wounds from their first loss of the year, the Chargers are now the challenger to Denver in the AFC West and look better than last year.  The Broncos for their part look overall shaky - the comeback against Seattle was the first time since late last season the Broncos showed closing ability.  Meanwhile the Chiefs exploded on Monday Night and suddenly look legitimate after going just 1-6 against quality opponents in 2013.  


It's still the Seahawks and Cardinals
- The 49ers rebounded to beat the Eagles, and it was a needed win given controversy about Jim Harbaugh and also the poor play of Colin Kaepernick - who looks incapable of clock management or of actually playing the quarterback position; he showcases Michael Vick Disease in refusing to stop running first - coming in as well as poor play on the O-line from Jonathan Martin - a fact lost in the shuffle of NFL news.

Even with that it's still Seattle and Arizona on top and looking good enough to control the division.   The Cardinals' decision to play Drew Stanton so far has worked, but his 52% completion is worrisome.  

So that wraps up Week Four and a lot of teams have some serious effort to make to get back into it next week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NASCAR's 2015 Rules Package Revealed

NASCAR has unveiled its 2015 rules package, and a summary can be found here, while a more detailed analysis is provided here.

Some quick takes -

The introduction of tapered spacers to the Winston Cup cars has been overdue with their success in the Busch Series and also the Trucks.   Horsepower has been too high for too long, and even here 700-plus is still much.

NASCAR is also lowering gear ratios to keep RPMs at 9,000 and below - again, overdue, as escalating RPMs haven't done anything for the racing.

NASCAR has in effect put in a test ban for teams outside of Goodyear tire tests - given the failure of testing restrictions dating to 1990 and after, it's foolish of NASCAR to keep policing this.

Optional driver adjustable track bar - it will be interesting to see what to make of this on racedays.

"Knockout" qualifying comes to the Daytona 500 to set the Twin 150s - it's seemed to have worked overall, so there seems no reason not to have it for the 500.

Spoiler reduced to six inches form seven and change - six inches is not an unreasonable spoiler height.  The goal of reducing downforce comes from the mid-August test at Michigan International Speedway; curiously, tested there were dive planes, small ailerons fitted to the nose near the hood, though they appear not to have made the final cut. 

Allah and Woman at Yale

Yale allows someone to tell the truth about Islamo-Arab imperialism.

More Strikes in Syria Expected?

Obama showcases how he defines decisiveness down instead of up.

Friday, September 19, 2014

More Goodell More Of The Time

Roger Goodell went before media on Friday with a news conference where he again accepted blame for recent NFL controversies involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, etc.   The ensuing presser lacked much detail despite some tough questioning, and of course led to widespread media ripping of Goodell - much ink was spilled on Tedy Bruschi's call for Goodell to be removed as NFL commissioner, while lost in the shuffle was reporter Pam Oliver (one of the best sideline reporters in the business; she famously stood up to loudmouthed receiver Keyshawn Johnson for instance) and her positive assessment of Goodell's presser.

Following the presser came another Outside The Lines story, this one delving into the Baltimore Ravens and their lobbying of the courts and Goodell on Rice's behalf - that ESPN even sees fit to examine team lobbying for Rice makes it out to be sinister, as though a team shouldn't be lobbying for a player when it has legitimate grounds to do so - it is impossible, for instance, to see the New England Patriots not quietly lobbying the courts if some form of exculpatory information ever surfaced regarding Aaron Hernandez.  There is also that the report in effect lets coach John Harbaugh off the hook by portraying him as someone who wanted to cut Rice when the incident took place where team owner Steve Bisciotti and the Ravens front office lobbied for him.   The Ravens deny that Harbaugh wanted to cut Rice and the obvious implausibility of that angle of the Outside The Lines report lends credence to the denial.

Lost in the coverage and the continued round of media grandstanding is that it still does not make a credible case against Goodell's initial handling of the Rice incident.  Where Goodell and the Ravens warrant criticism was in hanging Rice out to dry - this after the media (specifically TMZ) launched a grandstanding/armchair lawyering campaign, trying to reverse the initial two-game suspension without facing that the objective facts of the incident meant it legitimately did not warrant more than a two-game suspension.  

The whole Ray Rice and domestic abuse controversy is not about Rice or even Goodell - it is about media grandstanding and armchair lawyering.   More responsible coverage would have noted that it wasn't an unprovoked attack and that Rice was a first-time offender who did what was required of him by the law enforcement people and the courts, and there would have been some significant dissent from the established narrative that Rice should have been punished more.  

And for all the "moralistic preening and voyeuristic pandering" (as Politico so superbly put it) about the NFL and domestic abuse, the league is far and away cleaner than societies here or abroad, and the umbrage over the league's ostensible lack of a domestic abuse policy ignores that the percentage of accusations that are false is far too high for the league (or anyone else) to ignore.  

Yet for all that, the answer may have been stumbled upon with the new suspension with pay approach used by the Arizona Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers, and the Vikings in their recent issues of certain players arrested on domestic abuse accusations.   This appears to be what teams will follow from here on.

The Mainstream Media (political and sports) warrants its share of criticism over Ray Rice etc.  It's not just "J'Accuse!" to be aimed at Roger Goodell or the Ravens.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week Three Plods Toward Us

The NFL continues to have to deal with armchair lawyering as it plods toward Week 3, between continued media scrutiny of Adrian Peterson, the appeal by Ray Rice of his suspension, and the league's appointment of three experts in domestic violence to the league office to handle these issues for players.   The cluster-blank that has been the issue showcases the first blunder of Roger Goodell, for when he became commissioner he vowed to crack down on players' off-field misconduct - and he has nothing to show for it. 

Basically seemingly the only one who did anything right here is Ray Rice; no one else - the league, media, etc. - has shown much rationality.   It might have been a case where the best reaction was to leave it alone.

Peterson was briefly reinstated by the Vikings but after the expected fury of grandstanding (lowlighted by Budweiser's phony press release on the issue) he was in effect suspended with pay until his issue is resolved, and so was Greg Hardy of the Panthers.  

There nonetheless remain games to be played -


Falcons over Buccaneers - The Falcons right now are fighting for second in the NFC South and the Bucs come to the Georgia Dome off a bitter loss to the Rams.  The Falcons crashed back to earth in Cincinnati but are still better right now than the Bucs, and should get to 2-1.

Chargers over Bills
- E.J. Manuel has surprised some people right now, but in the Chargers the Bills get an opponent that got back on track with a strong win over the Seahawks.

Browns over Ravens - These are not the same old Browns, and their win over the Saints combined with erasing a 24-point gap to the hated Steelers shows it.   The Ravens are better than they were last year, but the Browns have momentum.

Titans over Bengals - I'm going a bit on a limb here after Cincy went 2-0 and the Titans fell to earth against a mediocre Dallas squad.  The Bengals are currently first in scoring and third in fewest points allowed, but the Titans are a better team than that Dallas loss would indicate.  We can expect some serious scoring here.

Cowboys over Rams - The Cowboys got a surprising and stout win last week, and their run game led the way.  The Rams haven't been stellar in run defense so far and still lack a quarterback one can feel confident in.

Lions over Packers - Both teams are 1-1 - but then the whole damned division is 1-1.   Detroit got stomped by a very good Panthers squad - and Green Bay is not Carolina.   Expect a Lions rebound here.

Texans over NY Giants - The Texans are clawing back under Bill O'Brien, the NY Giants are collapsing again under Tom Coughlin.

Colts over Jaguars - The Jags ran into the ultimate shocker of a buzzsaw at Washington and this game should be a lot closer.   The Colts overall still have too much and should win a 38-35-type game.

Saints over Vikings - The Vikings face a Saints team in need of that first win to get back on track; I'm not sure Adrian Peterson would have helped them.   The way Matt Cassel got abused by the Patriots, I'm not sure how well he'll rebound against a Saints team with some desperation on its side.

Patriots over Raiders - New England's periodic Darryl Stingley Memorial game against the Raiders will be an easy win over a demoralized Oakland squad that saw Charles Woodson in effect call out the team for being abysmal following the loss to the Texans.   The issue still surrounding the Patriots remains the crispness of the offense, as it struggled to score against the Vikings and receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon Lafell have been absent from production.   Brady's targets need to spread more.

Eagles over Redskins - Hold the phone - the Redskins now have Kirk Cousins as quarterback and he is what they need, especially in a Jay Gruden offense with which Robert Griffin III has not been effective.   The Eagles are still the favorites in the NFC East but the Redskins suddenly have something to say about that.

Cardinals over 49ers - Now we have to start questioning if the Niners really are starting to falter after blowing it against the Bears while the Cardinals started their backup against the Giants and still won by two scores.

Seahawks over Broncos - The Seahawks got punched in the mouth and Richard Sherman got beaten repeatedly by the Chargers, to where he skipped postgame pressers out of embarrassment.   The Broncos, though, have struggled to close out games and Peyton Manning is not as sharp as before right now, while Russell Wilson remains the better quarterback.

Dolphins over Chiefs - Failing at the doorstep of forcing overtime in Denver looks like the kind of loss that sends a team into year-long decline.   The Dolphins meanwhile get the Chiefs at what looks like the right juncture to rebound from another bad loss at Buffalo.

Panthers over Steelers - Face the blunt truth, Steelers fans - your team is fundamentally flawed and getting worse instead of better, while the Panthers are not letting a new receiving corps slow them down.

Bears over NY Jets - Calling a timeout before what was the tying touchdown is so New York Jets of them, and one has to ask how with all the things leading up to this the Jets cannot fire Rex Ryan and his staff.   Not that I trust Jay Cutler - he's a puss with volume stats - but the Bears did something good last week and that carries momentum against a team that has never been about substance or discipline but about flash, stars, and freelancing - and is thus as bad as advertised.


We certainly hope cooler heads - and smarter approaches to these problems - prevail in the NFL here.

The Democratic Party of UN-reason

The Democratic Party does nothing but live up to the subtitle of Thomas Sowell's book - self-congradulation as a basic of social policy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week Two's Rebounds And Stumblers

Has there been a week quite like the one leading to Week Two of 2014?  It's hard to remember so much derangement vented over such a wide swath of those following the game, lowlighted by the irrelevant Hannah Storm of ESPN giving a nonsensical spiel about how her daughter reacted to the Ray Rice incident and how she asked, "Why wasn't he fired?"  It apparently didn't occur to Ms. Storm to tell the truth - that it was a punishable act of viciousness but not an unprovoked assault, that Ray Rice is a first-time offender who fully cooperated with all investigators and entered a court-ordered court-supervised intervention program; in short it never warranted more than a two-game suspension by the league.

Then came a grand jury indictment of Adrian Peterson for child abuse, though the more one delves into the incident in question the murkier it becomes with conflicting accounts about whether there was an earlier grand jury investigation that led to no indictment, and the actual incident has received conflicting accounts as to whether it looks less like egregious assault than excessive punishment of a child - a punishable offense without question but less than the assumed level.

The ultimate stupidity of the derangement over Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson made the arrival of the actual games welcome, and it was an interesting case of last week losers becoming this week winners.   Some takes -


Ravens rally, Steelers melt - Far from being a burden on their shoulders, the Ravens took the abuse of the week and channeled it into a strong win over the Steelers, with solid effort by Joe Flacco and company that leaves the Ravens clearly improved from 2013's bridge year and leaves the Steelers staring at yet another 8-8 season.

Bengals and Browns go marching through the (NFC) South - That the Bengals are on their way to another playoff run seems obvious; that the Browns are showing moxie enough to contend with them should now be clear after rallying to defeat the Saints.   Sure, Johnny Clipboard came in for one play, but this is Brian Hoyer's Browns team, though coach Pettine should save some cigars reference in his postgame presser for his players.

Panthers are going to falter in 2014, right? - They changed their receiving corps, and the Panthers aren't exactly skipping a beat for it.  They also stand alone atop the NFC South with the rest of the division scrambling to try and keep up.

The Skins can forget about RGIII - He tore up his ankle and will be lost for about a month - and Robert Griffin III had to watch what looks like the future as Kirk Cousins went Tom Brady on the Jaguars by pummeling the life out of them 41-10.   Cousins showed more ability than Griffin has shown and the Skins better forget about their ostensible face of the franchise.

The Jets and Patriots sort of relive 1994 - In 1994 the Patriots erased a three-touchdown gap to beat the Vikings.   In 2014 they faced the Vikings again and after falling behind 7-0 exploded in all three phases of the game - the offense played well after a dismal second half at Miami, though it still needs work to get a proper flow; the defense exploded with four INTs; on a Vikings field goal attempt the kick was blocked into a Patriots touchdown.  

But the hilarity belongs to the NY Jets; in 1994 they blew a lead of eighteen points in the most infamous loss in team history - the Fake Spike loss to Dan Marino's Dolphins.   In 2014 they somehow topped that.   Not only did they bully the vulnerable Packers to a 21-3 lead only to blow that lead, they blew the comeback in the fourth quarter when Rex Ryan called a timeout before the 4th down snap that was a Geno Smith touchdown; they thus handed over only the second game in his career where Aaron Rodgers won after trailing by more than one score (2012's home win over the Lions from down 14-0 is the other). 

The Bills and Dolphins relive days of yore as well - With the Buffalo Sabers now literal brothers in arms with the Bills, the Dolphins witnessed a pounding reminiscent of the lopsided Jim Kelly vs. Marino era, this despite a truly sick Mike Wallace one-handed touchdown for the Dolphins.   The Bills for now stand alone atop the AFC East at 2-0 and it's clear they may not yet be a playoff contender but they're not the same old Bills.

No more aura of invincibility in Seattle - The Seahawks ran into a Chargers team smarting from Week One's loss to the Cardinals and Philip Rivers looks to return to elite status after a solid effort and three scores to Antonio Gates.  

Seattle's loss combined with Arizona's easy win over the punchless Giants keeps the NFC West as a slugfest right now. 

49ers not ready for prime time - The Bears under Jay Cutler have proven themselves mediocre at best - which raises more questions about the 49ers when they blew a big lead with 21 Bears points allowed in the fourth quarter, this following an offseason of soap opera antics between Jim Harbaugh and the front office. 

Chiefs can't tuck away comeback at Denver - The Broncos keep outlasting foes more than beating them as they didn't seal the deal against the Chiefs and nearly blew it when a Tuck Rule type call kept alive a late Chiefs drive, a drive Alex Smith once again could not finish.   While the Chiefs continue to struggle at 0-2, the Broncos at 2-0 aren't that much more impressive.

With Payback week closing on Monday Night's set-to the league marches toward Week Three.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

NFL Hurries Up To Week Two

Suddenly it's not quite the same NFL as we head into Week Two.   My picks for this week -


Steelers over Ravens - The absurd blowup over Ray Rice does no favors to the Ravens coming off a disturbing home loss to a good Bengals squad.   The Steelers themselves looked shaky while blowing a 24-point lead to the Browns, but they rallied to win, and Roethlisberger looks better than expected and Joe Flacco looks worse.   Neither defense looks up to their reputations.

Bills over Dolphins - In the recent past we've seen scoring league-wide start off iffy then start swelling in Week Two.   Both the Bills and Dolphins enter at 1-1 and the Dolphins run game was very good with Knowshon Moreno.  The Bills have owned the Dolphins the last two seasons and should win again in what I expect to be a high-scoring affair.  Buffalo also got a huge surge with word Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabers, will purchase the Bills; asuring they stay in Buffalo and likely helping with the project down the road to get a new stadium or greatly refurbish the former Rich Stadium.

Browns over Saints - These are not the same old Browns, and hitting their home opener gives them confidence facing a Saints team still as good as advertised.   Johnny Football time will have to wait for the Browns.

Panthers over Lions - Another shootout looks in evidence here, as the Lions took care of business against the punchless Giants while the Panthers silenced some doubters with a win at Tampa Bay, this with Carolina's backup.   Both teams look like they can make the playoffs right now.

Bengals over Falcons - Both Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan want to silence the doubters; so far they're both doing a good job.   Favor the home team here.

Titans over Cowboys - Jake Locker continues to grow as a quarterback; Tony Romo continues to throw interceptions.   Enough said.

Jaguars over Redskins - Despite blowing it in Philly, the Jaguars showed there is something to build on while Jay Gruden's debut was absymal.  Robert Griffin III more and more looks like a failure while the Jags have great opportunity to start winning over the doubters.

Patriots over Vikings - New England's line issues extend beyond offense, as the defensive line struggled in Miami.   The line issues are fixable with greater familiarity and also better footwork and blocking.   The Vikings are becoming the real deal, and the dangerous weapon is not Adrian Peterson, though he certainly is still superb - the weapon is Cordarrelle Patterson, who rushed for 158 yards in 2013 and this year has already broken 100 in one game.   Curiously he hasn't been thrown to very much.   If Aaron Dobson returns Sunday that will help the Patriots passing game.  Expect the Patriots to win a shootout here.

Cardinals over NY Giants - The Cardinals are neck and neck in the three-way shootout that is the NFC West and could become a Superbowl contender.   The Giants meanwhile look like a last-place team and Tom Coughlin may be staring at the end of his coaching career by winter.

Chargers over Seahawks - San Diego blew a winnable game against a very good Cardinals team on the road.   Though he's not the elite quarterback he's supposed to be, Philip Rivers is still too good to keep losing.   The Seahawks are the real deal in every facet but having faced the Cards, the Chargers have a taste of what to expect from Pete Carroll's bunch.

Buccaneers over Rams - The Bucs salvaged some decent play from their loss to Carolina and face a Rams team demoralized by the Vikings and still not showing they have a competent quarterback.

Broncos over Chiefs - The Chiefs clearly are not as good as they were in 2013 and the Broncos own the division right now.  The achilles heel right now is the Broncos have struggled the last several games (dating to 2013) at closing the deal; it nearly cost them against the Colts.

NY Jets over Packers - The Jets are better than we thought right now.   The Packers are as overrated as we thought, and their run defense looked bad against Seattle.   Aaron Rodgers is not the elite quarterback people thought he was; he's just the frontrunning phony who's seen his Packers lose 14 games starting with The Golden Touchdown in Seattle.   It won't change.

Texans over Raiders
- I'm starting to hear scuttlebutt to the effect Mark Davis won't keep the Oakland Raiders, period.   Certainly there seems some sense of hopelessness within the Raiders as Bill O'Brien is starting to make the Houston Texans contenders again.  

49ers over Bears - The Bears are as bad as we thought they were, Denny Green.   Jay Cutler can put up the volume stats but even with continuing rumors predicting his firing, Jim Harbaugh keeps the Niners winning.   Colin Kaepernick, after a shaky preseason, was solid in Week One and that should continue in Week Two. 

Eagles over Colts - The Eagles got a huge scare in the first half against Jacksonvolle but rallied to win by three scores.   They go into Indianapolis to face a Colts team that may not be as good as thought after a downer of a loss to Peyton Manning.  

So we await Week Two.

NFL Week One's Headscratchers Ball

The NFL's 2014 season has kicked off and in just one week a lot of beliefs have been turned upside down.   We look at the varied games that have left a lot of people scratching their heads -


The AFC East becomes a beast
- No New England runaway here.   The AFC East suddenly looks full of depth.   Miami's second straight win over the Patriots showcased that the Dolphins really have improved, this after being written off entering the season.   And the Dolphins aren't the only division team that looks better - E.J. Manuel played strikingly well in a wild Buffalo Bills win at Chicago after a tumultuous Bills preseason featuring brawling and poor play by the quarterback - and the rumor mongering before the game was that Kyle Orton would step in to replace Manuel.  

So what went wrong for the Patriots?  The offensive line had been a question mark even before the Logan Mankins trade and breakdowns there came primarily in the middle with some gaffes by blocking tight end Michael Hoomanuwanui also evident; the player getting the most blame right now is rookie Jordan Devey.   There was also the curious irrelevance of Darrelle Revis, whose signing was thought to give the Patriots defense the edge of a shutdown corner it ostensibly hasn't had for years.   Yet Revis, despite some plays made, didn't appear to intimidate the Dolphins at all. 

The Patriots aren't a team to let one bad loss ruin them, but line issues require addressing, and it shows the once-mocked AFC East is better than critics think it is.


The AFC South is also a multi-team race -The Houston Oilers twins - the Titans and Texans - both won, are presently tied atop the AFC South standings, and Tennessee's win was the more impressive coming against a Kansas City Chiefs team that's better than Jay Gruden's Redskins.   Jake Locker was good under center for the Titans while Alex Smith showed why the Chiefs shouldn't have signed him to that big contract.   The ultimate indignity for the Chiefs then came when their former kicker Ryan Succop signed with Tennessee. 

The near-upset of the day was the Jaguars as they attacked and raced to a 17-0 lead at Philadelphia, but the Eagles roared back and exploded to 34 unanswered points.   That the Jaguars played that well is something Gus Bradley needs to build on as his Jaguars are no longer anyone's pushover.


The wild and wacky AFC North - The trainwreck Browns and the mighty Steelers?  Mismatch, right?   Wrong.   The Browns came to play and they played like a team that can win.   The Steelers found out right away the Browns aren't the same old Browns, but the Steelers for their part also proved doubters wrong after a shaky preseason where their O-line looked atrocious.  

While those two were slugging it out the Bengals pulled one of the day's upsets by handling the Ravens in Baltimore.   Despite a great touchdown by ex-Panther Steve Smith the Ravens were abysmal on offense as Joe Flacco was intercepted in the endzone and threw 62 passes with just 35 completions.  The Bengals offense did have struggles with five field goals needed in redzone trips, but overall they showed they're still solid while the Ravens suddenly look shaky facing a short week where they host the now-confident Steelers.


The Vikings get an opening in the NFC North - The Packers got exposed and the Bears once again failed to seal the deal with Jay Cutler, so the Vikings enter Week Two with a win and a pretty big one after hammering the Rams with 34 points.   Neither Rams quarterback - Shaun Hill or Austin Davis - looks ready for primetime while Matt Cassel didn't need much in volume stats to crush St. Louis.


Tony Romo does his thing again. - Tony Romo keeps getting the benefit of the doubt in some analyses because of his volume stats.   His performance against the Niners showed anew why he'll never amount to anything as a quarterback.   The interceptions are what happen to quarterbacks who refuse to play smart football and instead insist it has to be about their arm.   It's Favreball and it's garbage.


NFC West close to the vest - The Seahawks did their thing and the Niners rebounded from a shaky preseason, while the Cardinals never gave up against San Diego and pulled out the win.   As for the punchless Rams, they look like a last-place team.


Broncos lead AFC West despite themselves - The Broncos manhandled the Indianapolis Colts but didn't seal the deal, instead giving up 24 points and nearly blowing another game where they led 24-0.   They thus lead the AFC West with the Chiefs already in trouble.  The Chargers meanwhile blew yet another lead and Philip Rivers is showing increasingly that he isn't the elite quarterback he's truly supposed to be.    Then there is the last-place Raiders.


NFC South rises again - The Panthers pulled off the win, and it gives their new-look offense some momentum to work with, while the Falcons proved they're much better than in 2013 with an amazing overtime win over the hated New Orleans Saints.   The loss by the Saints nonetheless showed they will be a force this season.   The Bucs meanwhile got almost nothing out of new offensive guard Logan Mankins - the irony is they played better after he left the game than they did with him.

So it is with Week Two on the way.

The Ray Rice Argument Gets Hit

The AP examined video initially released by TMZ but here augmented with audio of the fight between Ray Rice and his then-fiance that got him a two-game suspension at first but which swelled into a media-led crusade against Roger Goodell. TMZ released video of the fight, and it led to a firestorm and subsequent release of Rice from the Baltimore Ravens and indefinite suspension from the NFL.

The TMZ video led to this firestorm, but AP's additional analysis shows the fight was not a case of unprovoked assault by Rice. Rice certainly deserved suspension for two games from the NFL, but the attack on Goodell for the alleged leniency of the punishment completely ignores that the balance of information did not warrant punishment beyond what Goodell implemented.

This is another example of seeing a video and assuming it is the full story when in fact it is exactly the opposite. The balance of information is that Rice did something wrong, his fiance also did something wrong, and Roger Goodell, examining the incident on all information and on its own merits, issued proper punishment.

The late Peter Braestrup warned about the kind of reaction we're seeing with Ray Rice when he noted that in terms of information, a video usually tells you almost nothing. What people need to do is stop reacting to a video and start examining an issue or incident based on as many facts as are available.

Update: see also this look at how TMZ engaged in fraudulent armchair lawyering.

See also the transcript of Goodell's interview with CBS, for ESPN's Outside The Lines on September 11 tried to claim Goodell was caught in a contradiction when he stated, "when we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened."  The problem is the full transcript shows the term is not a contradiction.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Al Qaeda Wasn’t ‘on the Run’

When Osama Bin Laden was killed, over 1 million documents were retrieved by US forces - and almost none were released. Most still haven't been declassified.

The reason why becomes clear when one starts reading them - Barack Obama was pretending Al Qaida was "on the run" when the documents in fact showed it was growing - and as it had always been, Al Qaida was just a mercenary army for Islamo-Arab terrorist states.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Seahawks-Packers Bottom Lines

The Seahawks did it again as they celebrated their first football championship and then pounded the Packers in the so-called Fail Mary rematch.  There's plenty to dissect here.   Some bottom lines -


Aaron Rodgers is a bigger fraud than he'd already proven - By now it is a fact that Aaron Rodgers cannot stage a comeback.   When he can't put a team away or he has to come back, he fails; his successes cannot come in any circumstance other than frontrunning.   The Seahawks exposed him and the Packers in 2012 and they did it even worse here.   Rodgers' self-destruction under comeback pressure showed in a decidedly petulant rant at his center when he almost blew a timeout call, then on the safety where he looked utterly confused and got strip-sacked.  

Matt Flynn needs to start over Rodgers - In 2013 Matt Flynn did what Rodgers continues to prove he cannot do - stage not only a comeback, but do it three times in four games. 

If you're a Packers opponent, run run run - The Packers thought they could stop the run; they found out in a hurry they can't.  The NY Jets - the Packers' next opponent - should feel good about their run game in Week Two.

Dom Capers needs to be fired - and perhaps also Mike McCarthy - Dom Capers with the Packers has done nothing but prove he can't coach, and the same problems the Packers have had for years continue under Mike McCarthy, and McCarthy is showing he can't solve them.  If anything, with all the motivation in the world to want revenge in Seattle, McCarthy didn't have his guys particularly ready at all.

Packers opponents should be licking their chops - The Packers haven't gotten better at all - if anything they look worse from 2013, and their opponents should all be feeling a little cockier about their chances.  

There are weaknesses in Russell Wilson's game - The Packers defense was at its best when it baited Wilson into trying to go deep.   It was somewhat reminiscent of Chad Pennington, an underrated quarterback whose big weakness was the deep ball.

Marshawn Lynch should rest during preseason more - Mr. Beast Mode looked fresher having missed part of camp and preseason.

Pete Carroll is on the way to becoming the next dynastic coach - He showed he had the answers on both sides of the ball - though special teams looked a little sloppy.  And to think twenty years ago this season Carroll looked to be going nowhere as NY Jets head coach. 

Despite the big win, the Seahawks defense can be pierced - Seattle is not invincible, and the Seahawks will by no means go 16-0.   They also still have to become the first defending champ since the 2005 Patriots to win a playoff game.  

The refs were not flag-happy - John Parry came under fire in the Patriots-Eagles preseason game because of the enormity of penalties.   In this game the flags were kept to a relative minimum - and hurt the Packers more than the Seahawks, against whom the league's new penalty emphasis was ostensibly made.

So that's it from the first official game of the 2014 NFL season.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

On the Origin of Daesh/ISIS

Daesh, the Islamic State terrorist army, is the same - yet curiously different - as other "independent" Islamo-Arab terrorist groups. For one thing, it has been backed by Iran, Syria, and terrorist allies in Iraq - several Saddam Hussein officers constitute ISIS' leadership core. It fought alongside Al Qaida - itself a state-sanctioned mercenary army - yet internal leadership squabbles - common to Islamo-Arab terror states - led to a breach. And the group known as Daesh/ISIS is trying to seize and consolidate territory, and Barack Obama's appeasement has whetted its aggression.

UPDATE, November 25, 2015:This piece examines that Iran is not possibly an ally in defeating Daesh/ISIS.

The Great Recession didn’t ‘cleanse’ the US economy

Presidents get told harsh economic realities and refuse to listen. The Great Recession didn’t ‘cleanse’ the US economy because - again - Washington refused to face reality.

How Right to Work Laws Help Unions and Economic Growth

Unions and the economy in general benefit from Right To Work Laws.