Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fire Roger Goodell

This was first published on August 6, it was updated by early September, and has required another pertinent update at the end of October -

The suspension of Tom Brady took on a life of its own that the National Football League created, and the slamming of the league by Judge Richard Berman in overturning the suspension showed the league cannot escape without some fundamental change, for the campaign against Brady over the 2014 AFC Championship Game has revealed in graphic detail that there is no longer any justification for Roger Goodell to retain his job as NFL Commissioner.   Goodell has proven beyond any objective doubt that he is a failure and must be fired.

Why fire Goodell?  Let us count the ways -

Roger Goodell is maliciously ignorant of the game and of his job  - The transcript of the Brady appeal showed that the league was completely ignorant of the fact that footballs lose PSI naturally and it is just the latest example of how ignorant the Goodell-era NFL is about the game and of its own rulebook. That ignorance was first displayed in Spygate - as Scott Shaffer put it, "The media reports as if filming opposing coaches is a violation of NFL rules.   Roger Goodell shares this belief (and) based his punishment on it......However, the rules don't support this belief."   The start of Spygate was a 2006 memo sent to teams by Ray Anderson about sideline videotaping, a memo that misquoted the rules.   Goodell never tried to correct the error; instead he couldn't accept when Belichick schooled him on the rulebook and based punishment of Bill Belichick on cherry-picking the rulebook where Belichick applied the rule consistently.

Ignorance of the game continued with his punishment of the Saints over "Bountygate."   Goodell regarded player side bets for hits on opponents as some kind of rules violation,  and after a prolonged smear campaign and resultant legal fight (aided by the American Enterprise Institute's data disproving Goodell's premise of the Saints playing dirty) Goodell lost, and was publicly dressed down for his approach by former commissioner Paul Tagiabue.

The Brady transcript repeatedly shows Goodell being caught by surprise by new documents and generally being lazy and unprepared.

Goodell likes to talk unctuously about "the integrity of the game" - and has never offered any explanation why sideline videotaping somehow violates said integrity, or why a trumped-up allegation of football tampering somehow reflected a violation of the game's integrity.   It's because he has no clue about the integrity of the game.

Goodell refuses accountability, he strives to cover his own ass  -  The league falsifying the rulebook and then basing punishment on that falsified reading of the rulebook has become the pattern in Goodell's punishments.   As Matt Chatham and others have shown, Goodell has repeatedly changed the rules - or as Antonio Cromartie put it, made them up as he goes.  Often cited in media accounts was Article 46 of the CBA, except Goodell couldn't make it stick in his past punishments and failed to make it work against Brady  On Brady, Goodell made an issue of "non-cooperation" and treated it as though it were part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement - even though in fact it "didn't exist in the most current version of the CBA....(It was) introduced in the commissioner's panicky do-over rewriting of the league's personal conduct policy, released in December 2014."

Sally Jenkins noted that what makes Goodell's rulings so entertaining "is because he always doubles back."   When Ray Rice's initial suspension raised a media uproar - even though TMZ's infamous elevator video verified Rice's testimony to everyone - Goodell played CYA and smeared Rice to be a liar - and of course lost in court because of it.   Tom Brady's cellphone wasn't important until Goodell once again needed something to cover his ass.

Goodell is a liar on a continuing and colossal scale - Goodell lied to the Patriots - through David Gardi's January 19 letter, though Dean Blandino denials of his knowledge of the ordeal, and we suspect also directly to Robert Kraft during the May 2015 team owner meetings that saw Kraft accept Goodell's malicious punishments; when Goodell stabbed the Patriots in the back it led to Kraft's now-famous training camp missive about how he shouldn't have trusted the league - and has lied about the Patriots.   He lied about Brady "destroying his cellphone" and hid the fact Brady acknowledged changing his cellphones - because it was not relevant to anything.  Goodell lied about footballs being tampered with and lied about the nature of Tom Brady's correspondence with ball attendant John Jazstremski (Ted Wells shared in the lie; the two refused to face that text messages they wanted to believe proved tampering was occurring were irrelevant to the truth - and as Dan Wetzel shows, this belief is contradicted by Goodell's own ruling and the Wells Report). Goodell's side also admitted to Judge Richard Berman the league never had any actual evidence against Brady, showcasing Goodell's shaky grasp of truth, especially when Judge Berman showed how Goodell's "generally aware" indictment of Brady was in essence a sham.   In Spygate he lied about what the rulebook allows regarding sideline videotaping (and as noted above the league's memos falsified what the rulebook said).   He lied about the New Orleans Saints players in "Bountygate."   He lied about Ben Roethlisberger's rape accusation, which got him a four-game suspension in 2010 and was publicized by Sports Illustrated in a lengthy piece I suspect it regrets ever publishing.   There is also reason to believe Goodell is the source of the phony PSI story Chris Mortensen wrote after the AFC Championship Game - which would make him more of a liar in that he himself is the instigator of a smear campaign.

Bizarrely adding to the lie is Mortensen himself stood by the story on an August 27, 2015 interview on an Arizona radio show with Cardinals color analyst Ron Wolfley; Mortensen then added the whopper that the Krafts apologized to him, a claim immediately refuted first by the Dennis & Callahan Show on WEEI then by Jonathan Kraft himself before the Panthers preseason game; adding to the disinformation angle from the league, Mike Florio told WEEI that the league stonewalled his efforts to verify Mortensen's story and that it was part of an effort he called "a prosecution against the Patriots."

That prosecution took a lower turn at the end of October when the league shook down several Patriots employees while examining the visitors locker room for transmitting devices, an old hack accusation made against the Patriots with this specific one made by the Jets that has never been credible (opponent team security controls visitor locker rooms) and which turned up nothing but which raises the question of just how far the NFL will go in its prosecution against the Patriots.

Wetzel notes that players and teams need to be scared because the league has proven it cannot be trusted on anything regarding its conduct.   That the league office has been exposed as a liar engaged in a massive smear campaign against its best team - punishment of success on a vulgar scale - showcases that Roger Goodell must be fired.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Talking Nonsense In Talking Guns

Obama goes to Chicago to talk gun control in a city whose strict gun controls are failures.

Why NFL Play Has Declined - And How To Fix it

The NFL's 2015 season has had good moments, but the quality of play is widely seen as poor this season, even as TV ratings and attendances continue to surge. It shows not just in penalties, drops, and missed tackles, it's shown in scoring. 2012 and 2013 had a slew of wildly competitive games - in 2012 we saw thrillers such as the Bucs at the NY Giants, a slew of wild games in Week Three, New England and Buffalo's two shootouts, Thanksgiving's three epics - one of them admittedly an epic of comedy - to go with the Niners vs. Patriots Superbowl preview that wasn't, and the epic Ravens-Broncos playoff shootout and the Lights Out Superbowl at New Orleans; 2013 then followed with its own litany of amazing games. But since then the quality of play has declined, shown in a curious dearth of high-scoring back-and-forth shootouts as listed above.  Not that there haven't been good games this season - the Rams' win over the Seahawks, the Chargers' comeback win over the Lions, the Ravens' bitter losses to the Raiders, Bengals, and Browns, the back-and-forth fight between the Colts and Titans in Week Three stand out so far - but the concern over quality of play is warranted.

The Wall Street Journal piece examines reasons for the decline of quality of play; they are worth looking at.

The league has been unlucky with quarterback injuries, notably Ben Roethlisberger and Titans rookie sensation Marcus Mariota.   Quarterback play has been spotty, but the piece's assertion that it is because teams are passing more while throwing shorter distances is dubious.   Throwing shorter is throwing smarter, and the piece cites Joe Flacco as an example of a quarterback throwing shorter passes - an assertion at odds with his history and his game that emphasizes deeper throws off his back foot - the real source of his wild inconsistency, the fact he's forcing throws instead of playing smart.  A similar issue is now being seen with Andrew Luck; some important eyes with the Colts were opened when Matt Hasselback started two games and showed greater accuracy with his short passing game; the Colts have tried to dial back Luck's recklessness with the ball, but he regressed after a promising start against the Patriots that ended in a dismal second half of that game for him.

The piece nails it when it notes limits on practice time and physicality of practice due to the 2011 CBA,  a point made by Mike Florio after Roethlisberger's injury. The reality is limitation on practice has not allowed players to toughen up enough for better play.  Some also cite the litany of rule changes of recent to protect players, though it's worth asking if the better way to protect players is to instead toughen them up with more, not less, physicality.   Off-season training, which seems to be year-round for players, is also an issue - players need to train less in the offseason and hit more during training camp and preseason as well as in practices during the season.  

The issue certainly can be fixed - open up practices more, let teams hit more. Some rule changes are also needed, notably elimination of the offensive pass interference penalty - the dumbest oxymoron in sports - and loosening the standard to judge a catch - when in doubt the benefit of the doubt ought to go to the receiver.  Other changes the league ought to consider - adopt the CFL and Arena Football rule allowing pass catchers a running start behind the line of scrimmage at the snap, balanced by elimination of the five-yard rule.

People still watch the game because of its fundamentally compelling nature.   And it can be made better.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Labor Costs and The Minumum Wage Ripoff

Labor costs matter. It is shown again in companies as they decide where to go - and where not to go - due to the ripoff that is minimum wage.

Netanyahu Is Right About The Grand Mufti Of Jerusalem

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem outrivaled Adolf in trying to kill Jews.

Tony Blair Wrong To Apologize For Defeating Iraq

Tony Blair apologized for the defeat of Iraq in an interview with CNN hack Fareed Zakaria.   The argument against the Iraq War remains false. Islamo-Arab imperialism long predated the defeat of Saddam Hussein and Hussein actively was a backer of Islamo-Arab terrorism; plus the 2003-7 fighting - defeated when the US surged and got the Army to stop being passive - came because of IRANIAN war by proxy. And the result by 2007 was victory - a victory thrown away by subsequent Obama Administration appeasement.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sizing Up NFL 2015 Near Halfway

We're nearly halfway through the 2015 NFL schedule and in some ways it has played out as expected while elsewhere it hasn't.   A missive on what has - and hasn't - happened so far -


Hold the phone of the AFC and NFC Least - Neither division was expected to be that strong, especially the AFC East, mocked as a "tomato can division" by sports hacks ignorant of the game.   The Patriots remains unbeaten at 6-0 while the NY Jets have been the surprise of the conference so far, showing far greater professionalism under Todd Bowles than we could have dreamed of after Geno Smith got hammered in preseason by his own teammate.   The playoffs now look like a certainty for the Jets.

The Dolphins meanwhile have engineered the most striking turnaround so far; their players quit on Joe Philbin and got him fired; now they've scored 82 points in their last two games under Dan Campbell and have a plus-3 turnover differential in that same span, a sign Philbin was a bigger locker room cancer than anyone could have thought - though also a warning sign that these players are no-account bullies whose attitude of trying when they feel like it will cost them in the end.

The Bills meanwhile have faltered as we thought they would under Rex Ryan, the coach who refuses to be disciplined with his players and lets them freelance on and off the field.

The NFC East meanwhile is a logjam between the Giants, the Eagles after a dismal start, and the surprising Redskins, with the Cowboys collapsing under abysmal quarterback play since Tony Romo went down - and Romo is not good enough to warrant being considered close to elite.   That the Deadskins are 3-4 is frankly surprising.


The Nooks of the North  - Green Bay remains unbeaten but still show themselves to be frontrunning phonies, outlasting opponents rather than sealing the deal, on display in particular with the photo-finish escape from the Chargers.   Still close behind remain the Vikings, quietly getting better, though not yet at the level to steal the division.   The collapse of the Bears under Jay Cutler was a given; the collapse of the Lions has been downright shocking after last season's encouraging 11-5 run. 

In the AFC the Bengals are not just unbeaten, they actually look to have stepped up their game, though shootout wins over the Ravens and the comeback over the Seahawks were seen before the last couple of years - 2013's comeback win over the Packers came to mind in the Seahawks game while Dalton has won six of his last seven meetings with Baltimore.   The collapse of the Ravens has been surprising, though given the gross overpayment of Joe Flacco at the expense of cap depth may now be becoming a factor after not being so in 2014.

The wildcard remains the Steelers, without Ben Roethlisberger for several games but still 4-3 even with a loss to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. 


It's Carolina and Atlanta and then everyone else in the South - Forget last season's fiasco where no one from the NFC South finished above 7-8-1; the Panthers and Falcons look like 13-win teams apiece even after Atlanta escaped in Tennessee.   The Bucs are going through the inevitable growing pains of having a rookie quarterback and blowing a big lead at Washington was another rough ride for Jameis Winston.   The Saints meanwhile are all over the map with questionable play by Drew Brees and sudden uncertainty to Sean Payton's future.

While in the AFC the Colts are division champs pretty much by default.  The rookie growing pains for the Titans have been on display before injury left Marcus Mariota off the field, yet another blow to an increasingly tortured franchise that has in Mariota a quarterback that one can confidently feel will become a force, having already displayed competitive fight this season - and they showed it again before winless Zach Mettenberger blew it in the final two minutes against the Falcons.   The Jaguars and Texans are both 2-5 but going in opposite directions - Blake Bortles is slowly getting better while Bill O'Brien has his hands full with a worthless quarterbacking corps (lowlighted by Ryan Mallett's petulance) and inability to handle anyone on either side of the ball.


Curl of the Un-Golden West -   Back in the 1990s the San Francisco 49ers were always rocked by huge controversy - will they fire George Seifert or not? Will they fire Steve Mariucci in his second year or not? - even in their 1994 Superbowl year; the 1996 controversy over Marc Trestman and Seifert illustrated there was a toxic environment there even when they were good.   Now the toxicity looks to be worse with the collapse of Harbaugh in 2014 and the complete regression of Colin Kaepernick, to where it is impossible to visualize a Niners rebound.

The Seahawks for their part aren't much better even after an easy win at Santa Clara; suddenly the team looks undisciplined and incapable of handling anything, success or failure, and they face a dogfight with the Rams, clawing for more respectability, and the Cardinals, looking strong against everyone but AFC North teams.  

While the NFC West is chaos, the AFC West is holding on by a thread.   The Broncos are 6-0 yet having to hold on against pedestrian offenses and foes Peyton Manning has always owned (Baltimore, Cleveland, and Kansas City specifically), while the Chiefs have fallen fast with a fading Alex Smith and the Chargers falling apart amid widening speculation of a move to a pointless (and nonexistent) Los Angeles stadium.   The surprise here is the Oakland Raiders, clearly becoming a real team with a genuine star in Derek Carr.   Gone are the bad decisions and worse influence of Al Davis; in is the building of a real program.  

The rest of the season thus awaits.   Turnarounds can happen; given the surprises that have happened so far, we as fans certainly have reason to hope they do.

The Fraud of Biofuels

The defense of biofuels continues to fall apart on facts.

Islamo-Arab Imperialism's Continuing Success

Barack Obama threw away Middle East victory when he was elected, and the results continue with continuing enemy success.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

At Talladega NASCAR Gets Worse

And it gets worse for NASCAR. TV ratings for the Chase in 2015 have been dismal and the moving of the Diehard 500 at Talladega to NBC Sports Network instead of airing it on NBC (which aired the USGP for F1) was not a good sign for the Cup Series; adding insult to that injury, the Truck 250 was aired on FOX's over the air network.

But what transpired at Talladega is bound to anger even more people.  Not only was the racing once again enormously under-competitive due to NASCAR's ridiculous diktat against push-drafting, the finish was the biggest insult to competitive integrity in years, certainly since the absurd Regan Smith yellow line penalty that cost him a last-lap win in the 2008 Diehard 500.   NASCAR dictated only one green-white checker finish for this Diehard 500, apparently thinking having the normal three would produce more crashes; what they got instead was two, the first coming on what NASCAR disingenuously claimed was not an attempt - the green light came on as the cars hit the gas, but a crash occurred in the trioval and NASCAR waved the yellow, claiming it was not an attempt, this even though the radio chatter from drivers indicated it was an attempt. 

NASCAR tried again and as Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr took off Logano got the lead but another wreck, involving among others the eminently-forgettable Denny Hamlin after a bad day where he had to get a roof hatch repaired, erupted and NASCAR wasted several minutes trying to determine who was leading at what scoring loop even though it was obvious Logano was the leader and thus, under NASCAR's field-freeze rule, the winner.

The wreck happened because Kevin Harvick - who took out Denny Hamlin at Daytona and thus launched Austin Dillon into spearing the fencing - swerved into Trevor Bayne.   But of course Harvick refuses to be accountable for it - and NASCAR as usual will not hold the responsible driver accountable for it.

It combined the worst of everything for NASCAR.

Without push-drafting the cars basically are stuck sidedrafting with the leader basically immune from challenge; for most of the race the top five hogged the bottom line without any challenge, where the racing should have been about rocket-surges from midfield into the lead by lock-bumper two-car superdrafts, the lead thus changing at a spectacular rate, and the field able to keep up and sort out without being stuck in place.

Then there is the chronic problem that NASCAR gives the officiating tower the power it has to determine the outcome instead of the racers,   That the restart was declared not a restart by NASCAR was doubletalk; that it was important is also absurd both for the aborted start and for the one that was stopped after the leaders hit Turn One; because NASCAR ostensibly doesn't allow racing to the line, instead freezing the field when the caution comes out - this even after numerous examples (such as the 2004 Firecracker 250, the 2007 Daytona 500, the 2008 Talladega Truck 250, and the 2011 Firecracker 400) where NASCAR left the green out amid a crash and let the field race to the line.  The result all these times was that racing to the line is not the safety problem NASCAR seems to pretend it to be.

What transpired was Joey Logano was declared the winner, based not on the start-finish line but by the officiating tower reading a scoring loop.   No matter how it is sliced it is not a legitimate win; Logano didn't race to the line to earn the win.   Such rule-induced fraudulence has been a depressingly frequent occurrence, most infamously illustrated in the 2004 Winston 500 and 2004 Pocono 500.  

The tower wasn't supposed to make the call - it was supposed to be determined by racing to the stripe.   That it was officiated like this shows anew NASCAR's credibility problem.

At Talladega such problems are easily fixable - let the cars (and Trucks) push-draft again; it's the strongest power to pass ever seen, and what matters is passing, period; give the racing at Talladega and Daytona back the 60-plus lead change average it had just a few years ago.  Reduce the officiating tower's role and give some control of the racing back to the racers - let them race to the stripe and thus legitimately determine the outcome.   And stop pretending a restart is not a restart.  

NASCAR's credibility issues of course extend far beyond Talladega.   The Chase concept has no legitimacy and the disintegration of TV ratings shows it; drop the Chase, go back to the Latford Point System, and increase the points bonuses for the win and for most laps led - incentivize going for the win above everything else.   The issue of costs and team spending need to be addressed by NASCAR and the new Race Team Alliance - the low number of winners in 2015 (just eleven with the Talladega outcome) is indicative of a disturbing lack of competitive depth for the sport. 


It was a lousy race even for the winner, and it certainly stunk for the rest of the field.   Joe Gibbs Racing was dismal even though it led some laps; Stewart-Haas Racing was basically MIA; so were any Fords outside of Penske Racing; Ganassi-Earnhardt had a forgettable day.   That racing always produces more widespread disappointment than cheer is true enough; that even the winners couldn't honestly feel good about how it all transpired merely shows how dismal a day it was for a track where it should always be so much better.

Another Assault on Common Sense

The lie of rape on campuses.

A New Baby Parts Scandal

Planned Parenthood's cannibalism brings to mind Soviet disinformation campaigns of the past and also showcases what Planned Parenthood is actually about - treating women like animals.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

How Iran Helped Soviet Russia In Syria

The commander of Iran's Quds Force is someone Barack Obama sucked up to to spur his appeasement of Iranian aggression - and now he has aided Soviet aggression in Syria. We also have a roadmap to defeating Red Russia's imperialism - fighting the enemy by aiding those already doing so.

Let Airbnb Be

Activists want to regulate Airbnb because it works and makes money

White House’s Summit on Unions Is a Dishonest Affair

The White House fights for unions instead of for workers.

Abbas Doesn't Fight Terrorism

Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian "state," doesn't fight terrorism, he arms it.

Putin Is the New Sheriff in Town

Putin has the West so scared of standing up for itself he breaks the law and the West won't fight back. And Putin is now escalating the nuclearization of international terrorism.

Going Easy On Iran

Obama's appeasement of Iran contrasts with his tough talk about Libya a few years back. We also need to remember Obama's appeasement effectively ensures future war.

States Need To Grow Up About Pensions

There is no such thing as a sustainable entitlement - anywhere.

Liz Warren Tries To Stifle The Truth On Investment Advice

Senator Liz Warren is like all leftists - unable to win the debate on facts she tries to silence those telling the truth.

Monday, October 05, 2015

NFL 2015 - The First Month

So what to make of the NFL's first month of the 2015 season? Several things -

The New England Patriots are the best team in the league - Despite a transitioning defense that's still raw, the Patriots are stopping everyone they need to stop and are scoring like crazy.

The Bills will not challenge the Patriots - and neither will the rest of the division - Rex Ryan's team is 2-2 yet is undisciplined and Ryan will not hold anyone accountable for sloppy play or penalties. The schedule gets seemingly easier now, but it won't make the Bills better. The Dolphins meanwhile appear to have cashed in the season after firing Joe Philbin; speaking of accountability Ndamukong Suh's postgame presser after the London game indicates he wants nothing to do with accountability.

The Jets are not ready for primetime, but are more professional now - After the Geno Smith disaster the Jets looked primed to collapse right away. Then something happened - they got more professional once the season began. Even in the loss to the Eagles the Jets looked decent; seemingly gone are the train-wreck days of recent yore. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the long-term answer, but right now he's been better than expected. Keep an eye on Bryce Petty down the road, though - Geno Smith will not be the follow-up to Fitzpatrick.

The Bengals may be better than we thought - I've yet to find an analyst who thinks highly of Marvin Lewis, yet Lewis has made the Bengals a pretty consistent contender from his 2003 start and at 4-0 the Bengals actually appear stronger than usual, especially Andy Dalton, whose command of the quarterback position has always been good but never great; he has shown genuine improvement so far.

The Ravens appear lost - In the bottom half of the league in scoring and defense, the Ravens may still salvage a winning record but have shown no sign yet that they can, especially with five INTs by Joe Flacco, rumored locker-room acrimony sewed by Steve Smith, and a minus-three turnover differential.

The Browns won't miss Johnny Manziel - Their lone win so far was with Johnny Fumbles, yet his play was so erratic the Browns made the right call benching him for Josh McCown. That McCown hasn't won yet is frankly puzzling given he's played more than respectable football, especially in the Chargers game.

The Colts win in spite of themselves - Worthless against the AFC East and just pedestrian against six other divisions in the league, the Colts keep beating their own division opponents in spite of themselves, surviving a mystifying rushing attempt for two points by the Titans and then dodging two missed Jaguars FGAs to win in overtime; they next get a punchless Houston team that can't decide almost from one quarter to the next who their quarterback will be.

The Titans will become a good team again - sooner rather than later - The best 1-2 team in the league, the Titans have a fight they haven't had in years and Marcus Mariota is proving he's the real deal. Growing his game in his rookie season remains the priority but he's so far ahead of the rookie game it's head-spinning. He's shown he can lead comebacks, now he has to finish the job in them, and I feel confident he will.

The Broncos keep winning in spite of themselves - The Broncos are trying to transition away from an aging Peyton Manning, and so far they're 4-0 yet shaky at it, barely escaping the Ravens and the Saints (two teams Manning has owned his whole career), beating a terrible Lions team in subpar fashion, and now escaping a rising but still raw Vikings squad. People rave about the Broncos defense; all its done is beat up pedestrian offenses; it also proved it can't handle good tight ends.

Watch out, the Raiders are getting good again - Losing to Jay Cutler's Bears was a shock; that's how far the Raiders have come in such a short time. Derek Carr has made the Raiders a top-12 offense, and even Matt McGloin looked good in relief action. They need to shore up the defense, but the Raiders now have a direction - one that's positive, to where winning ten games in 2015 suddenly is no joke.

The rest of the AFC West - The Chiefs are now the last-place team thanks to a spent Alex Smith and a clueless Andy Reid, and the Chargers struggled to pull off two hard-fought home wins; the road right now looks too daunting for Philip Rivers and company and it's doubtful now that they'll make a playoff run.


Watch out, the NY Giants are getting something going - The Giants looked awful in the first two games; beating two also-rans may not qualify as improvement but the rest of the Giants schedule suddenly looks a lot more favorable than it did a few weeks ago.

The rest of the NFC East - yuck - The Deadskins are still the Deadskins, even at 2-2. The surprise is the dismal start of the Eagles, even as Sam Bradford showed some noticeable improvement in three touchdowns and no picks against the Skins. The collapse of the Cowboys was to be expected of a team too top-heavy to survive on depth and that was overrated to start with.

The Packers remain the anointed of the NFC - even though they still don't deserve it - Green Bay was anointed the NFC champion before the season started, and at 4-0 they have made a decent case for that - except they haven't done well closing out games (especially getting off the gas up 38-14 to the Chiefs and thus giving up 14 points and giving the Chiefs final possession) and also looked downright pedestrian against a punchless 49ers team.

The Vikings continue incremental improvement - Currently fifth in fewest points allowed, the Vikings made a game of it at Denver before imploding at the worst time. Teddy Bridgewater has shown decent form; coming out of the Vikings bye he has to start getting better.

The Lions have become irrelevant again - Matthew Stafford has not taken the step forward. He has not elevated the Lions to win a game so far this season, and his inability to handle quality opponents was on display again at Seattle and has now become too grave an issue to ignore with just four or five potentially winnable games on the Detroit horizon. One now has to wonder, after a very promising 2014 season, if we've seen the best of Matthew Stafford - I sure hope there's more to his game down the road.   Far less deserving of benefit of the doubt is Calvin Johnson - he anointed himself as Megatron and has never justified it despite some gaudy volume stats.   The goalline fumble brings to mind other instances where Johnson refuses to finish a play - the three stops at the Cowboys 1-foot line in 2013 rather than punch into the endzone come immediately to mind; his pedestrian 2014 season also comes to mind.   Johnson is the type of player who basically puts more stock in showing off than actual execution, and it's why he'll never mean anything.

The Falcons and Panthers on the NFC South collision course - Remember how the NFC South couldn't produce a team with more than seven wins? Forget it. The Panthers look like a 12-4 squad at worst (though they do need to score more) and the Falcons have not been this good since - dare I say? - their "Dirty Birds" Superbowl run. Time will tell if they sustain this run, but so far Dan Quinn has made them more dangerous than people expected.

Jameis Winston will have to endure the rookie bug - We're so used to rookies exploding forward than one can forget rookie seasons are usually struggles, and Jameis Winston's subpar start is realistically to be expected of greenhorns. Winston's biggest problem has been his game has been more scattershot than what is needed of an NFL quarterback - he looks like a freelancer rather than a pocket passer. I still think he can be good, but he'll have to go through the rough gauntlet first.

The Cardinals are the NFC West commander - Bruce Arians has taken what even a few years ago was the worst team in league history and has elevated them to a level no one ever thought they'd reach. The Cards are currently in the top-five in both scoring and fewest points allowed and we remember why their 2014 season was derailed - the loss of Carson Palmer. If they keep him healthy they suddenly look like a stronger contender than some of the other NFC hot shoes.

But the Rams have something to say - Jeff Fisher may finally have found his quarterback in Nick Foles. Though only 2-2 the Rams made a statement beating the Cards in their own building and Foles has put up efficient numbers in five touchdowns with just one pick. Defensively the best stats are points allowed and turnover differential, and the Rams are 13th in points allowed with a plus-two differential, having forced a turnover in every game so far; the three turnovers given up in the first Seahawks game inflate the differential somewhat. Now we see what they can do at Lambeau.

The Seahawks need to rebound - Two bitter losses put the Seahawks behind the eight ball and the contract fight with Kam Chancellor is a bad sign for Seattle's cap management. It's the first big test for Pete Carroll as Seahawks coach, but having come as far as they have, one can still feel Carroll will get things turned around - especially the way the Seahawks escaped on Monday Night.

Colin Kaepernick's career may be ending - After a very promising effort against the Vikings, Colin Kaepernick has disintegrated in front of everyone, getting manhandled by an overrated Packers squad and reverting to the sloppy, undisciplined form that wound up killing the Niners' 2014 season. The season takes a decided turn for the worse from here on out, and the talk in some fan circles about starting Blaine Gabbert in Kaepernick's stead merely shows how much the guy thought to be the future of the game has regressed.

 So it goes as the second month of the season beckons.

Australian Gun Control Didn't Work

Barack Obama cited Australia to push for gun control - as usual the facts prove exactly the opposite of what he thinks.

Obama's Foreign Policy In Disarray

A look at the disarray of Obama's foreign policy.

He Who Dares Wins As Vlad The Impaler Shows

Vlad The Impaler shows Syria in 2015 is no quagmire for him.