Site Updates

I’m working hard to bring you the best football website for the upcoming year!  I’d just like to post a quick report on today’s updates:  Added the first new post in too long.  Added Fantasy Football Commandments.  Added Players to Avoid.  And started working on this year’s draft kit which will be completed by the preseason!

Advertisements

Your success hinges on…

Your success hinges on Sam Bradford. The Eagles are down 6 points against the Cowboys, and more importantly, you’re down 2 measly points against the worst team in your fantasy football league. Yea, you might have drafted Aaron Rodgers, but he’s on a bye, and Bradford is filling in since Cutler got hurt again and no one knows what the hell John Fox means by injured. So you picked up Sam Bradford since he’s playing the Cowboys. It wasn’t the high scoring game you’d thought it’d be, but Bradford just needs 50 yards. 3rd and 2. Bradford throws it deep. Riley Cooper comes up with it! 51 yard completion. Now all Bradford needs to do is score and take the Eagles and your team to victory. With 20 seconds and 1 timeout they can’t run it! You’re going to beat Joe Blow! Bradford throws the shovel pass, Ryan Matthews bobbles it and Sean Lee picks it. You both lose. Only the pathetic Cowboys fan in your league, who you just lost to is happy.

Now if Bradford were Aaron Rodgers you wouldn’t have gotten into this situation. Or even Blake Bortles. Rodgers lives in a pass happy world and so does Bortles. Rodgers because of his Hall of Fame arm and Bortles because of a putrid defense. So please think before you draft or pick up a quarterback. Or any other player for that matter. Sure things happen and Rodgers has a bad game, but the consistency of having him or Bortles over a Sam Bradford cannot be understated. So if you like to win at fantasy football understand exactly what each NFL team does to win every game. Pretend you’re coach Larry Dickman of the Ottawa Raptors and understand why you’re going deep. Is it to run the ball on 3rd and 2? Or open up the short pass? Each of these decisions by the coach has consequences in game and on the fantasy football gridiron. If you can figure out how these strategies help or screw you as a fantasy coach, you will win more games than your opponent. Just ask Graham.

Broncos 2016 Offense Prediction

As if being a Broncos fan (as most people I know are) wasn’t hard enough, John Elway trades for Mr. Butt Fumble himself.  Now Sanchez is a lot better than Peyton Manning was last year, but… well that’s really all I’ve got.  He’s a decent backup, but would not be a good starter for the Broncos.  Think Denver’s defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl without an offense?  Wait until you see Denver’s offense playing defense against all the turnovers.  Not pretty.

So I’ve come up with a new offensive scheme that I think Denver should consider.  Listen up John Elway, here’s the players that you’ll need:  Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow.  We’ve all seen teams running an offense from the shotgun with a running back on either side.  Now imagine if one of those running backs was named Tim Tebow, and he can throw the ball too.  Imagine if the other were Eddie Lacy!  Unfortunately, it appears Denver is going to hold onto the much better C.J. Anderson who will now be lining up on the other side of QB Johnny Manziel.

Essentially, ever play is a read or a triple option look.  In fact, we can even add in a fourth running option by having Emmanuel Sanders swing down from Wide Receiver for a potential end-around.  Now this, this is football.  Manziel could have 500 rushing yards, Tebow a 1000, and C.J. Anderson… 750.  Manziel and Tebow could split passing duties so that whenever a completion was needed Manziel could throw it instead of doing whatever it is that Tim Tebow does.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “This isn’t going to happen Charlie.  The NFL doesn’t work like some crazed college scheme drawn up by a drunk coach.  Tim Tebow and Manziel suck.”  And while you’d be right about everyone of these statements, the thing is, it would be a nightmare to gameplan.  Just writing about it makes it seem complex.  Sure, the offense might fumble it on botched handoffs 5 or 10 times a game, but it sure would be the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.  After all, Denver needs a quarterback, and they’ll find one at #1 overall in the 2016 draft if only they would listen to me.

Initial Thoughts

The Texans inked Brock Osweiler to a big old deal.  While he could completely bomb, I don’t think he will.  How good will DeAndre Hopkins be next year?  First receiver off the board good.  He’s going to make Antonio Brown look a bum.  3000 yards?  400 TDs?  Anything is possible without Brian Hoyer and whoever else played QB for the Texans last year.  I’m excited.  Texans could make a deep playoff run with a quarterback.  And with the addition of Lamar Miller.  I like where the Texans are heading.  Let’s see how they do throughout the rest of the offseason before I draw too many conclusions (like I already have).

Now we move onto the most exciting team in free agency, the Bears.  While signing Trevathan, Tracy Porter, and Bobbie Massie won’t change the team as much as upgrading the defensive line.  Wow.  Kyle Long is moving back to right guard and the offensive line looks much better already.  Now Danny Trevathan is a great addition.  He’ll actually be able to read defenses, call plays, and make tackles.  This I approve of.  And well Tracy Porter isn’t bad, but he isn’t great.  Still he was a bright spot on last year’s terrible defense.

Which leads me to a team that I don’t quite understand what they’re doing, the Giants.  They needed all the players that they signed.  But the contracts they gave out to Jenkins and Vernon are outrageous.  They’re both players that will help the defense, but they’re not worthy of being top paid players at the positions, yet.  However, the addition of Damon Harrison will bolster this unit more than any of the other signings this offseason.  I like the direction, but I’m not sure I like the cost.

And finally, Matt Forte.  He’s always been one of my favorite players in the NFL, and that won’t have to stop because he didn’t sign with the Packers.  I like his prospects with the Jets this year.  Fitzmagic is one of my least favorite starters, but he does know how to dump the ball off.  And without Ivory or Powell returning Forte will be the beneficiary.

“I Can’t Quit You Football”

Now I’ve already given Manning a retirement grade…. but he hasn’t retired.  He truly is pulling a Brett Favre.  Like being in a relationship that should have been over, Peyton Manning can’t give up football.  Here’s a conversation I overheard between Manning and football the other day.

PM: “Oh hey football, how are you doing?  Everything treating you well after the Super Bowl?”

Football: “I’m doing good Manning.  That Super Bowl was great.  So what do you want to do next year?  Set a new record for interceptions?”

PM: “Well, I think we should take a little break from each other…”

Football: “But you said that you loved me and that you would never leave me?”

PM: “Well, I guess I can do it for you.”

I mean I’d rather have Jay Cutler coached by Mike Martz over Peyton Manning coached by anyone next year.  But maybe Manning will even wait it out until an injury next season forces someone to sign him… He might be better than Nick Foles… but Case Keenum?  That’s the saddest statement that I have ever written about football.  Manning’s retirement grade is now being bumped up to 12 out of 10 Favres.  It could make it up to 15 or 20 before he stops playing.

The Other in Sports Media

Every once in a while I will strive to post something thoughtful and well-written. I often find myself thinking too much, and today is no exception. The wonderful piece “Think Big, Be Free, Have Sex… 10 Reasons to be an Existentialist,” in the Guardian by Sarah Bakewell got me thinking about the other in professional sports and who the “they” that gets outraged at every little arrest is. Or who is “they” that gets disappointed in a player’s bad behavior.  I had never heard of Heidegger’s concept of das Man that Bakewell describes as translated to “the they.”  This semantic observation was one which I had never considered before, but before we delve into what this means in professional sports we must first look more deeply at why this small semantic observation matters.

First, das Man appears to be a concept of “The Other,” something the fascist in Heidegger would have been well acquainted with.  What is “The Other?” Well, it’s best to show examples of it. To the Nazis the other would be Jews and Communists. To the Soviet Regime it would have been capitalists. To Homophobes it is gay people, and so on and so forth. Basically, if someone takes all of their fear, loathing, and insecurity and projects it onto an outside group. This is “the other.”

So, who is the that elusive “they” we talk about in sports and how does it relate to the “other?” Often it’s a definable group. But what if we say “Everyone is disappointed in Josh Gordon for smoking pot?” That statement is a falsity. I am actually disappointed in the NFL’s drug policy, not Josh Gordon. So how does Josh Gordon become the other for an unknowable group of people?

First off, there is a role which technology plays. It’s so easy to become outraged in speech, but not in action that people post their raw thoughts online much too often. But for anyone observing sports or society or anything really, raw thoughts are too raw to be palatable.  These thoughts get thrown into a big old mess on the internet and many media personalities think that what they are reading is the actual public opinion.  Public opinion is best understood through surveys, polls, etc., but hardly through a twitter search.  Why?  Well, if 10 people buy a product and are contented with it, but there is an 11th person who hates the product, then the 11th person will have the loudest voice.  The same applies for people who are so in love with something.  While there are issues that are divisive and seen almost exclusively through black and white (say Aaron Hernandez being a murderer, it’s not a good thing) it is very different than the standard issues at hand.  Why do moralists get to decide whether smoking pot was a correct or incorrect decision?  It appears that he didn’t hurt anyone doing it, so this is not the black and white issue that a murder would have brought about.

Now that we don’t know who “they” are when we make these statements, why does it matter?  Because it directly influences conversation about a topic, particularly in the media, where almost all of our information about sports is gleaned from.  Instead of going out and attending press conferences from your favorite team, we watch the sports report on TV or read the sports section of the newspaper (or more likely favorite blog).  When people begin to use the statements about das Man on television people listen because it sounds like public opinion even if it is not.  It helps to maintain the power and structure of sports leagues.  Would a competitor to the NFL be bad for its business?  Absolutely.  So we hear statements like “they are thinking about changing the rules for catching,” which seems innocent enough, but who are they?  A committee of billionaires?  Coaches? Referees?  You would have to dig quite deep to find that information.  And most people will not do it.  These vague generalizations eventually turn into the public opinion because it was thought to be the public opinion.  There are many examples of this, but the one I would most like to know is who are these people that keep asking stupid questions at the combine?  They’re obviously out of touch with the times and/or reality.  But instead of knowing it was the scout for this team or that team, it is a “they.”  And it is mostly likely to save face for all involved.  But is this kind of hiding worth not being honest?  That is a question everyone must answer for themselves.

As you can see there are many permutations that das Man takes in professional sports, and I believe that this article is just touching on the surface of some of these concepts.  Why does this even matter?  Because even in sports truth must be valued.  Misinformation and hidden details create false opinions and perceptions which may in reality be very simple.  These kinds of issues create a landscape in which we cannot trust the media, players, coaches, scouts, etc. to deliver any kind of reliable information.  This is sensible when it creates a competitive advantage from an organization’s standpoint, but it makes little sense at all when it is being disseminated by the media except in light that these media outlets have huge contracts with the league and also stand to lose in the event that unsavory topics and opinions are allowed to see the light of day.

In conclusion, we all must become more aware of the conception of das Man to prevent ourselves from misjudging people and putting imaginary groups or specific individuals into the realm of the other.  If we allow ourselves to be played for fools by these messages from others and from within ourselves, then we will not be able to reach the most thoughtful opinion that is closest to our own personal truths/beliefs that is possible.  When we begin to question these statements we begin to journey closer to the truth.  And how could that possibly be bad when sports help to employ so many people.  Irrefutably, it turns everyone who plays them (and perhaps watches them) into the person that they are today.  Maybe you wouldn’t have met a spouse without football?  Maybe it allowed you to become friends with someone you never would have had much else to talk to with?  Perhaps it allowed you to have an amazing experience at a game?  This is why sports matter, and this is why das Man matters.

 

 

Joe Flacco Contract Grade – 7 out of 10 Favres

Joe Flacco’s extension as reported by Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun lowers his cap hit for next year from $28.55 million dollars to $22.55 million dollars with $40 million in new guaranteed money.  This is getting a 7 out of 10 Favres.  Not because it’s a bad move, it allows them to build more of a team around Flacco, but because of how exasperated Ozzie Newsome had to be with Joe Flacco by now.  Rather than being a retirement PR nightmare that kept Aaron Rodgers on the bench, Joe Flacco has been a contract nightmare along with his agent that has kept a super bowl run out of reach. It’s really, really hard to build a great team around an expensive player, unless that player is a future Hall of Famer.  And I don’t think Flacco will ever make it into the Hall of Fame.  The good news is he can go deep, and deserves to be paid more than Jay because of his Super Bowl win.

Tag Tuesday – Weighing the Consequences

As reported by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com here, this year’s franchise tags are in.  Here’s a quick overview with some thoughts on the 10 tagged players of 2016.

Alshon Jeffery did not have a good year.  He was often injured, but played well when he was healthy.  However, he had back to back 1000 yard years prior to this season.  It seemed the lose of Brandon Marshall did not effect the Jeffery as much as expected.  Hopefully Chicago is able to work out a long term deal soon.  If not, Kevin White had better prove to be the greatest wide receiver in Bears history.

Josh Norman‘s tag was pretty predictable.  He developed into a great corner this year, and the secondary is a key to success when your divisional rivals quarterbacks are Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston.  If Carolina can work out a long term deal with him than all the better.  Ron Rivera was an ’85 Bear after all, so I can’t hate on this decision.  But…

Justin Tucker seems to be a futile franchise tag use.  He’s a good kicker, but is he franchise tag material?  As you can see here on Spotrac, unless the Ravens wanted to sign their Long Snapper Morgan Cox to the franchise tag they really didn’t have anyone worthy of the tag.  You could make an argument for Courtney Upshaw, but it seemed to be too high of a price for him.

Muhammad Wilkerson being tagged only destroys one more of my fantasies about whom the Bears should sign during free agency this year.  Good job Jets.  You got a great defensive lineman…now can you trade him?  Maybe for David Fales?  Sounds fair right?

Buffalo is doing the right thing resigning their line and tagging Cordy Glenn. Who knows what the Dolphins are thinking tagging Olivier Vernon, if he doesn’t sign elsewhere he’ll be a good player for Adam Gase’s new team.  Von Miller is Von Miller.  Simply put Miller is one the best pass rushers I’ve ever seen play the sport.  Trumaine Johnson doesn’t make much sense, but then again the Rams have to face the vicious 49ers passing game twice a year… Good for Eric Berry, while it seems like a great storyline (and it is), his presence will help any team mature, and a hard hitting safety is one of the most fun players in football to watch.  And we’ll see about Kirk Cousins while everyone has him pegged to be a great player, I’m not sold.  We’ll see.  I’m more interested to see where RG3 lands honestly.

And that’s it for the franchise tag!  Stay tuned free agency starts next week!

 

The NFL – Running League

Today’s NFL is dominated by passers. Manning, Brees, Brady, even Romo.  But this could all change overnight.  Even with the rule changes that favor passing, running the ball remains a productive option.  The NFL’s best teams don’t throw on every down.  In fact, the Carolina Panthers even use a fullback (Mike Tolbert) to great effect.  Running the ball can take pressure off your defense or mediocre quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick).

So why don’t teams run the ball as often as they used to?  What happened to smashmouth football?  Offensive lines changed.  Only a few teams have a Richie Incognito.  A bulldozer.

Running backs weren’t even drafted highly the last few years.  Until Todd Gurley.  Todd Gurley is the last hope for smashmouth football.  He can run even with 8 men lined up in the box because linebackers have gotten smaller and smaller.  A 3-4 is great… against the pass.  With everything in the NFL geared towards the pass eventually someone is going to figure out that heading forward the best way to play football is to give a running back the ball 30 or 40 times a game. Because no one will expect it.  If you prepared for someone to pass the ball, are you prepared for a ground game that will wear your defense down to a puddle?

Eventually innovation will lead straight back to what made the NFL what it is today.  Anyone who averages over 3.4 per carry will get you a first down in three runs.  The NFL will come full circle especially as the great quarterbacks today retire.  Balance will always be key, and you can simulate a running game with short passes, but eventually someone like Todd Gurley will come along and show a generation of high schoolers that being a running back is cool, even cooler than being a quarterback.