Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lane Kiffin Hearts Rich Rodriguez

You gotta think that Lane Kiffin is up there in Knoxville loving the fact that there is another relatively young head coach at a storied program in a major conference is getting in a lot of trouble and taking the focus of of him. I wonder if he will send Rich Rodriguez a thank you note, lol.

Rich Rodriguez and Mike Barwis will never say this, but the impression I got was that they thought Michigan was soft.

That was after spending a couple of days last summer in Ann Arbor chronicling the new regime brought in from West Virginia. This was before 3-9, before the end of Michigan's 33-year bowl streak. This was a look at a young, aggressive staff -- Rodriguez the head coach, Barwis the strength coach -- getting ready to rip up the rug and put in entirely new carpet. So to speak.

"It's definitely a culture change," former defensive back Morgan Trent told me. "What first hit us was the strength and conditioning aspect. The lifts we were doing, that was the biggest culture shock. That was rough, it still is rough.

"It's fun to see your body change. Gaining weight and gaining muscle, getting in true shape."

Those words echoed after reading the results of a report in the Detroit Free Press of Michigan's alleged violations of NCAA weekly work limits for athletes.

The Freep quotes several anonymous sources -- parents and players -- saying that the Michigan staff overworked players. Before reading the entire account, my first reaction was, "So what? I bet every program fudges a little bit on the 20-hour NCAA work week."

There is no gray area in the Freep report. The story is solid and well reported, although it was a bit troubling that not one of the accusing sources went on the record. The Freep said the sources feared repercussions from the coaching staff. I'll buy that. Sooner or later, though, names are going to have to be attached with comments.

Sunday's in-season routine at Michigan was especially troubling. Into the facility early in the morning after a game, four hours of lifting, team meetings, perhaps not home until 10 p.m. Some schools have their mandatory off day on Sundays during the season. Even if players aren't off, I can't think of one program that works players to that extent the day after a game.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Leftwich It Is

Jay Glazer is reporting that the Bucs have selected Byron Leftwich to be the starting Quarterback for this year's team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris informed his team this morning that Byron Leftwich beat out Luke McCown for the starting quarterback job, has learned.

Play FOX Fantasy Football for Free!The move does not come as a surprise as Leftwich had been the odds-on favorite.

However after early performances by Leftwich, 29, and fellow veteran Luke McCown, Morris decided to wait one more preseason game for one of the quarterbacks to clearly take the job or clearly stumble.

If you have been following any of my posts on the subject its probably apparent that I disagree with this decision. It is not that I don't believe that Leftwich is a good quarterback. In fact I think he has one of the biggest arms in the league. But just in terms of philosphy, I do not believe you can win with an immobile quarterback in the NFL anymore. If you look around the league right now how many true pocket passers are starters? Id give you maybe 5 guys out of 32 who could possibly be as slow as Leftwich. And out of those 5 every single guy has a wicked quick delivery. Lefwich, on the other hand, compounds his lack of foot speed with a big, slow windup of a delivery on his throws.

Now when he has time and there is a deep route open fans are going to love Leftwich. However, starting with the first game and Demarcus Ware coming in here, when the opposition has a great pass rush it is not going to be a good look.

The question that remains is if they will keep Luke McCown on as a number two or if they jettison him and elevate heir apparent to the position, rookie first round pick Josh Freeman, to the role of back up. This is going to be a huge decision because I can't remember the last time Leftwich went through a full season without missing sometime due to injury. And as much as I don't agree with the decision of Leftwich to be the starter, you can cancel Christmas if Freeman has to start any games this year. It is what it is.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

That's Karma Baby

Looks like Mike Vick will have at least one fewer protestor against him in Philly:

The experience of losing her favorite dog after accidentally leaving it in a hot car for four hours will strengthen the credibility of the Richmond SPCA’s leader, say those who work closely with her.

A 16-year-old dog belonging to Robin Starr, the SPCA’s chief executive officer and one of the area’s most outspoken advocates for animals, died last Wednesday.

Anne Grier, chairwoman of the Richmond SPCA board of directors, said she believes the dog’s death will boost Starr’s position as an animal advocate.

“I think it enhances her ability to communicate and educate the public about humane issues. I think that if this can happen to her, it can happen to any of us,“ Grier said.

“We’re all human beings. For her to speak from experience — I know this has been extremely painful to her — I think gives her more credibility.“

Some call for SPCA CEO to step down

However, some in the community say Starr should step down from her position. An article about the situation had drawn about 200 comments, more critical of Starr than supportive, on by yesterday evening.

“She doesn’t have as much credibility anymore. . . . She can’t stand up for animals in the way that she used to,“ said Henrico County resident and self-proclaimed dog lover Lamont Johnson.

“I do believe that people make mistakes. Just because it was a mistake doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay for it. You have to accept responsibility for your mistakes.“


Starr, who had four dogs and two cats, has been a vocal advocate for the welfare of animals and has pushed the General Assembly for tougher laws to protect animals. She also has been a vocal critic of NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges in 2007.

When he was reinstated last month by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Starr said, “The action of the NFL commissioner to reinstate Michael Vick is both premature and unwise. Vick has not yet demonstrated that his remorse is sincere or that his irresponsible, cruel and criminal behaviors are likely to change. The NFL and its leadership apparently lack the integrity to require civilized behavior from their players. This would reflect poorly on any team that adds Vick to its roster.“

Now to be sure nothing about this story even hints at this being an intentional act and we all know that Vick willingly engaged in dog fighting and killing those dogs that didn't perform. Still as they say what will make you laugh will make you cry and hopefully this will make people think twice about boycotting the man after he paid his debt to society.

Live Blogging The Bucs Vs Dolphins Preseason Game

The QB competition will be decided tonight and we get our first look at Cadillac Williams in a game since his knee injury last year. Hell we may even see new Dolphins rookie QB Pat White run a little Wildcat tonight. Come on by and join the conversation!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RIP Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy

We lost a great man and a great Senator overnight. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bucs Bits

There are two bits of Bucs news that I wanted to comment on. The first one is about Jermaine Phillips going back to safety.

TAMPA - The Jermaine Phillips experiment is over – for now.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris said Tuesday the plan to shift Phillips from safety to outside linebacker has been shelved while free safety Tanard Jackson serves a 4-game suspension to start the season.

Geno Hayes will get first shot at the weakside linebacker spot while Phillips returns to the secondary, joining Will Allen and Sabby Piscitelli at safety.

"You've got to have three safeties and I'm not confident at that spot past Will and Sabby,'' Morris said. "I was starting to see something special out of Jermaine. He's been unbelievable … you talk about unselfish. But he'll be a safety at that point (September). It will be Sabby, Will and Flip (Phillips). That means Geno has to step up, Adam Hayward. One has to step up and become that guy.''

This was a move that I was never sold on to begin with. Its a different world when a guy moves from Safety to Linebacker. But there is a really really easy fix. Somebody ought to have already called Derrick Brooks and begged him to come back for one more year. The guy is in shape, he recently had work outs with the Saints and the Raiders. And if there was ever someone who could keep this team together with the turmoil they are about to face with a new Head Coach, a new starting QB and a new cast of characters on Defense its Brooks. It never made sense to me why they cut him especially when the only rationale that would have made sense, that they wanted to get bigger at Linebacker, was proven false when they moved Phillips up to his old position.

I think this would solve quite a few problems for the Bucs right now and to me it should be a no brainer. And trust me on this, Brooks is a guy who wouldn't hold a grudge and would probably jump at the chance to come back.

The other bit of news is about Cadillac Williams getting a start this week.

Running back Cadillac Williams, mounting a second straight comeback from serious knee surgery, will start at running back for the Bucs in their preseason game against the Dolphins Thursday night.

In announcing that news, coach Raheem Morris also revealed how he intends to use his running back rotation throughout the season. As will be the case on Thursday, Morris said the starter will get two series, followed by another back playing the next two series and a third getting a single series.

Asked if that would remain the case throughout the season, Morris replied, "if it works, that's what I'd like to do. I want to go into it with that thought." Morris left open the possibility that the rotation could be altered based on a particular back having a hot hand.

Coach Morris' statements aside, I think this is the strongest indication so far that Caddy will not be on the team this year. The only reason they could possibly have for wanting him to start in the third preseason game when its obvious that at best he would be the 3rd team Tailback is so that they can show case his skills for another team in hopes of either trading him or being able to waive him and have another team pick him up. I was kind of wavering on whether or not they would end up jettisoning him after Kareem Hudgins got injured in the Jacksonville game but my guess is they got good news on Hudgins coming back in time for the regular season to start. I know that most people will look at Caddy getting a start as a good thing but in the NFL everything isn't always what it seems.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eating While Black

Is it time for another beer summit?

Baltimore Ravens undrafted rookie linebacker Tony Fein was arrested and charged Sunday with assaulting a police officer at a restaurant, authorities said.

Fein, 27, was eating dinner at Johnny Rockets in the Inner Harbor when a security officer thought he saw him pass a handgun to one of his friends, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. It turned out to be a cell phone.

When police questioned Fein, 27, he became belligerent and shoved the officer, Guglielmi said. Sgt. Joseph Donato was knocked to the ground and had an injured elbow, a police report said.
Fein's agent, Milton Dee Hobbs, says it was the officer who was aggressive and that Fein didn't shove him. Hobbs says police approached Fein because he was a black man wearing a sweat suit and hoodie.

Hobbs also says Fein has never owned a weapon.

Police told the Baltimore Sun that the three identified men with Fein fled the scene. Fein did not have a handgun in his possession, according to the newspaper.

Fein attended Mississippi and was signed as a free agent in June following a minicamp tryout. He is an Iraq veteran who served in the Army for more than three years before playing college ball. In two seasons at Ole Miss, he had 136 tackles (77 solo) in 24 games and was given the Pat Tillman Patriot Award by the Military Order of the Purple Heart his senior year of college, according to the Ravens' Web site.

Is it too much to ask that a man be allowed to eat his meal in peace? I know some folks will point to the cops version of events about him being belligerent, because as we all know cops never lie, but give me a fucking break.

One of those officers should be fired but there is zero chance that that will happen.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Game Review: Bucs Vs Jags Preseason

The Bucs beat the Jags last night 24 to 23 in a game that ended up going right down to the wire. I thought we played a lot better last night than we did in the first game but there were still areas that we could improve.


Quarterback: Im going to go ahead and predict that Luke McCown will be named the starter this week. He played well last night and threw two TD passes but for me that wasn't the deciding factor. I thought Byron Leftwich played well last night also even though he didn't get the team in the endzone. But both guys had a play that illustrated in my my mind why you go with McCown. With Leftwich his receivers were covered up and he had no where to go with the football. But all of a sudden the field opened up and he had nothing but green grass in front of him. Unfortunately when he tried to take off upfield he was caught from behind by a defensive end from the Jaguars, just barely making a couple of yards. On the other hand McCown had a play out of shotgun where his receivers were locked down also. However he didn't have any lanes in front of him to take off running up field. He also felt some backside pressure coming from a Jaguar defensive end. So he scooted over to his right just out of the grasp of the Jags player and threw the ball away.

I just do not think all other things being close to equal, that you can go with an immobile quarterback over a mobile quarterback in this day and age in the NFL. It is what it is.

Josh Freeman did some good things, among them taking off for a 26 yard touchdown. He is definitely athletic to be so big. But he also had a couple of miscues including an intentional grounding penalty where he should have probably just eaten the ball. For a rookie he did well but again he IS a rookie and, John Lynch's advice nonwithstanding, if the Bucs were to go with him, this would be an awful season. But Bucs fan feel heartened that when Coach Raheem Morris was asked about naming the starter the only two QBS he referred to in the coversation were McCown and Leftwich.

Josh Johnson came in at the end of the game and did a decent job of managing the team. He only had 4 opportunities to throw the ball connecting on two of them so he really didn't get to show case his skills. But I thought he did well all in all. On another team it would probably have been enough to make the 53.

Running backs: The running backs all played really well last night and now it looks even worse for Cadillac Williams from where I am sitting. With Earnest Graham resting Derrick Ward got the start and ran the ball well and had a couple of nice catches also. Clifton Smith came in for relief and showed a lot of shiftiness on a couple of inside runs and he also was back to his return duties last night. Kareem Hudgins, the rookie from Hofstra, had a couple of outstanding runs last night. He made a move to the outside on one of his runs that looked like it might have literally broken a Jags defender's ankle. I also saw him quite a bit on special teams.

A guy that I didn't talk about much last week was Jameel Cook. The reason being is that Cook was basically signed last year after starting FB B.J. Askew went down and I am not altogether convinced that the Bucs will carry two FBs. But after last night I may have to reevaluate that. See Cook has always been an excellent special teamer and he went down on the first team kickoff team last night. Usually at this point the guys on the first team of special teams have the best shot of making the team if they are on the bubble. But Cook also had a great night of blocking which brings me to the other factor that didn't look good for Caddy last night.

Most of the time when Cook was in the game blocking last night, he was in front of B.J. Askew who was getting some carries at tailback. And the kicker is THE GUY CAN RUN THE FOOTBALL! He might not be Mike Alstott (but then again who is) but Askew has very quick feet and he is a powerful runner. He also has more speed than you would think. So now you have a situation where you can carry two FBs and one of them can sub at TB in a pinch and give you good quality yards while both of them can contribute on special teams.

If I were Caddy I would be begging to run down on kickoff this week. Let me reiterate that I am a fan of Cadillac Williams and I would also point out that I went on the radio a couple of years back to defend him from what I thought were unfair attacks from Jon Gruden and his position coach at the time. But the NFL is a business first and I just see the writing on the wall.

Tight Ends: I want to state that my first instinct is that Jerramy Stevens will end up having a better year than Kellen Winslow. I like Winslow but he has been virtually invisible these first two games and he just isn't an all around TE. Stevens has worked his ass off since coming here and he is a mismatch in both the running game and the passing game. He has excellent hands, better than average speed, and he knows how to use his body to ward off defenders. The question will be if Stevens outshines Winslow will he go in the tank and become a cancer? And if so how much heat will the team take for bringing him over in the first place?

I try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt but I think these are valid questions.

Wide Receivers: Last night we saw the reemergence of Michael Clayton and nobody could be happier than me. What I was most welcome to see last night was the focus he had on catching the ball. I know that sounds like a duh statement but in my opinion Clayton's biggest problem over the last few years has been the fact that he just couldn't catch the ball. I felt like it was mental more than physical because its obvious the guy has the skills but he had lost all his confidence and so even when he would get balls thrown to him right on the money he would drop them more often than not.

Last night however he caught a couple of difficult balls that showed he has at least some of his swagger back. I have given him grief over the years, not because I didn't like him, but because he wasn't performing. The NFL is and always has been and always will be a bottom line business. I could care less about Clayton's skills as a blocker, which are admittedly impressive. A WR gets paid to catch the ball and do something with it, period. And it looks like he is well on his way back to doing his job.

Sammie Stroughter and Maurice Stovall also had a pretty good day yesterday. Stroughter was outstanding however and he had a couple of impressive returns on special teams, one for 75 yards and he also caught a TD from McCown. Brian Clark was dissappointing and he had a few drops and only caught one pass for one yard.

A guy who I am sure the Bucs are really going to be intrigued about is Mario Urrutia. You can't coach 6ft6 and the guy seems to have some skills as a receiver. I just don't know if there are enough WR spaces on the 53 for them to keep him though, especially considering I hardly saw him playing special teams.

Offensive Line: I thoguht the offensive line played really well last night. They didn't give up much pressure at all to the Jags defensive line and they did a great job in run blocking. We ended up with 330 yards of total offense which is pretty good for a preseason game. The starters all played well and two backups in particular looked good to me.

I thought Marx Dile and Xavier Fulton were the best of the second team guys on the offensive line. Dile got to the second level and made some really nice blocks on LBs. Fulton was really good on pass protection for a young guy.

I still don't feel like the Offensive Line as a group has embraced the cut block on the back side of the zone runs. When they do you can expect the RBs to have much bigger cutback holes to run through.

One of the downsides was, however, that the O Line had more than a few penalties. They have to get that eliminated because penalties are drive killers.


Defensive Line: Gaines Adams flashed a little bit last night. I thought he had an excellent series when he started off on first down by defeating the TE and tackling a big back in Greg Jones for a loss. Then he followed that up with a nice bullrush for a pressure on Garrard. But these were pretty much the only two plays he made all night. I am always going to be harder on defensive linemen because that is the position I played but it is what it is. Gaines got chipped several times by a running back last night and got put on the ground. That is just not acceptable that when a QB on the other team is setting up to pass you are down on the ground muddling around. He also still hasn't mastered the concept of turning the corner tight. Too many times I still see him turning the corner too wide. Now make no mistake, he has all the tools in the world to be a double digit sack guy and even a Pro Bowler, but he is going to hav to start putting it all together.

In general i want ot also point out that the defensive line attempted some pass rush games last night and they were AWFUL! None of the players seem to understand that the guy who is the set up man actually has to set their guy up. Instead they are all looping around each other immediately and the end result is 4 guys bumping into each other while the QB pats the ball. (if you don't understand what any of this means not to worry I will be explaining defensive line play in an in depth fashion in the upcoming weeks.)

Has anybody seen Jimmy Wilkerson by the way? I don't think the guy has made a play in the first two preseason games. Its not like he has played poorly but he hasn't shown up on film and this team is going to need for the D Line to make plays for the defense to work.

I thought Ryan Sims had another strong night as he picked up a sack of David Garrard early on. I also have to say that right now he is the Bucs most consistent pass rusher. Which leads me to ask why they are taking him out on 3rd down? Whose "genius" idea was that? Don't get me wrong, the guy basically only has a bullrush as a pass rush move, but dammit its effect. And from what I have seen its a helluva lot more effective than all of those cute moves that the other defensive linemen make. So maybe, just maybe they could keep Sims in the game on 3rd down instead of putting Wilkerson in at defensive tackle when he really isn't getting any pressure from there. Oh and why they are at it they might, just maybe, want to keep Gaines on the right side so he can get a rhythm over there.

Im just sayin

The backups really don't inspire any confidence in me other than Roy Miller and Greg White. I like Kyle Moore's ability but he seems to be better suited as a tackle than an end but the new regime likes bigger tackles. I suppose he would be a good swing guy on game day though who can help the team by playing both.

I hope Chris Bradwell took his jersey home with him last night because he cut himself. I don't know if he had a shot before the game of making the team but after the mistakes he made during the game I can tell you he doesn't now. When you get called for a penalty that makes your head coach walk on the field and yell "What the fuck is wrong with you?!", its a safe bet that you aren't making the team.

Linebackers: I have a question. Why in the hell aren't people talking about Rod Wilson?! I'll be honest, I am not familiar with the kid but I like what I have seen from him the first two games a lot. He reminds me a lot of Shelton Quarles in the way he moves and how physical he is. I am more than a little bit surprised that he isn't being given the opportunity to vie for a starting job on the outside and instead is stuck behind entrenched starter in the middle, Barrett Ruud. Now maybe he is a flash in the pan but I don't think so. I have a sneaky suspicion that this kid will be around this town for quite awhile.

I didn't see a whole lot from any of the other LBs last night. I will say that after two preseason games I haven't really been all that impressed with Quincy Black's much hyped pass rush skills. I also thought Adam Hayward didn't really play to his level last night either.

Jermaine Phillips was having a decent night until he injured his shoulder. Every Bucs fan should hope and pray that its not that big of a deal because with Tanard Jackson being suspended the first 4 plays Phillips being injured could create a void at two different positions.

Secondary: Sabby Pisitelli had an awesome first preseason game and he had an awful second preseason game. He started it off getting torched for a TD in cover 2 by Troy Williamson up the seam, something that should never happen. And he followed it up with some missed tackles and a terribly misplayed attempt at another pass to Williamson on a post route which resulted in another big play for the Jags. Now just like one game shouldn't crown him the next John Lynch, another game shouldn't crown him a bust either. But with Jackson being out for the first 4 games and Phillips now at LB, Sabby is going to need to get better and fast!

I thought Jackson played well and dished out some punishing blows. Aqib Talib, playing with the threat of a suspension hanging over his head, also played well and had the hit of the night on Maurice Jones-Drew.

Another injury worth keeping an eye on is Elbert Mack. Im not sure what happened but it appeared he went off the field favoring one of his legs. Again depth could be an issue now with the suspensions and injuries. And keep in mind that DBs are an integral part of most of the special teams as well.

I thought Torrie Cox and Kyle Arrington both had good nights in coverage.

Overall I would say the team did well but the penalties have to be cleaned up. I think the talent is there for us to be a decent team this year but I am not sure how it will all come together. There are still some major decisions to be made this preseason about guys making the team and I look forward to seeing the team take a collective step forward in the next preseason game which will be more like a dress rehearsal

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Buc Vs Jags Live Blog

Right Back At It!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Live Blogging The Cowboys/Titans Preseason Game

Kickoff Returns Are Going To Suck This Year

Death Of The Wedge

You can put me in the camp of people who disagree with the NFL's decision to ban wedge blocking on kickoff returns. I realize that it is supposedly a safety issue but it just seems like people have been using that kind of blocking on kickoff returns for time immortal and I can't recall it having that much of an effect on players getting hurt. In my experience as a matter of fact players were a lot more likely to get hurt covering a kickoff if they got blind sided by a frontline guy rather than just busting up a wedge which has always been considered a kind of right of passage for special teams guys.

I think the result of the prohibition on anything more than two man wedges will also lead to pretty boring kickoff returns this year too and the league average will almost undoubtedly go down. There are basically two major reasons for this.

The first reason is that by taking the wedge out of any opposing team's playbook you help every special teams coach because now they can focus exclusively on so called "matched up" returns where by the return team usually assigns one blocker for every one cover guy. You have to remember that most teams line up the same way every time on kickoff return before the ball is kicked. Then after the ball is actually kicked and while the ball is in the air the guys running down to cover the kick have to diagnose what kind of a return it is on the fly. Taking away wedge blocking substantially cuts down on what kind of return the cover guys will have to recognize. Think of it this way, how much would it help a defensive coordinator to know that an opposing team couldn't use a split back set? Or that they could never run a trap play?

A whole lot, that's how much.

The second reason is that by making teams go to almost exclusively matched up concepts on kickoff returns the league has now put special teams coaches in the unenviable bind of having to find top line "in space" blockers to put on the kickoff return teams. One major advantage of running a wedge return was that you could put some of your bigger less athletic guys on the back line, let them come together, and then just take off together in a straight line blocking whomever came into their area. With a matched up scheme those guys would have to pick a guy running down full speed for 30 yards or so with plenty of room to move laterally in either direction and try to block that person for long enough so that the return man can get by them. Keep in mind that All 10 guys not returning they kick will have a huge onus on them to make their blocks because unlike a wedge that could usually account for someone missing their block, if one guy misses their block in a matched up scheme, the guy they didn't block will more than likely go down and blow up the return guy.

Now I would like to think that this rule will spark some kind of innovation on the part of special teams coaches but I don't have much confidence that that will happen. So you can expect that for the most part this year the most exciting kickoff returns you are likely to see might go 40 yards at the most. But take heart in knowing that after the returns fall off so badly this year, I am pretty sure the competition committee will revisit the rule next year because while safety is nice, the NFL is definitely all about entertaining folks and making money. They will find a way to allow wedges again, you just wait and see.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Paying The Stupid Tax

Plaxico gets 2 years:

NEW YORK -- Facing the prospect of spending at least 3½ years behind bars, one-time Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress on Thursday accepted a plea bargain with a two-year prison sentence for accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub.

The former New York Giants wide receiver pleaded guilty to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a lesser charge than he had faced. He will be sentenced Sept. 22, and lawyer Benjamin Brafman said he expects Burress to begin serving his sentence immediately after.

Burress got into a black SUV without speaking to reporters outside Manhattan state Supreme Court, but Brafman said, "After an agonizing period of discussion, Plaxico decided that he wanted to do this, to put this behind him as quickly as possible."

Burress was indicted earlier this month on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment. He faced a minimum sentence of 3½ years if convicted at trial.

The guilty plea ends months of haggling between Brafman and the Manhattan district attorney's office. The case went to a grand jury after negotiations broke down, apparently because District Attorney Robert Morgenthau was insisting that Burress serve at least two years in prison.

Morgenthau did not comment on Burress' guilty plea.

Assistant District Attorney John Wolfstaetter said in court that Thursday was Burress' last chance to accept the deal.

Now I know some people will claim Plaxico was unfairly targeted or that his sentence was too harsh, but you can count me out of that conversation. I don't think NFL players have to be choir boys and I certainly wasn't, but what he did was just damned stupid. Somebody of his stature has the means and opportunity to hire his own bodyguards if he is worried about being jacked. Bigger than that, as a gun owner I can tell you that even if he was going to try to carry a gun illegally for his safety which is never advisable, just stuffing it in your pants is some bullshit. Just as easy as he shot himself that gun could have fallen out and gone off and shot someone else. Just because he had the misfortune of shooting himself which to be sure is on a lot of levels funny as hell, doesn't mean you forget the fact that the situation could have ended a lot more tragically.

I try to give guys passes on a variety of issues that I feel like we all kind of slip up on, but I have no patience for guys who commit dumb crimes.

Tampa Bay Bucs Starting Corner Aqib Talib Arrested

Talk about starting off on the wrong foot for the Raheem Morris' era in Tampa Bay. Getting arrested mere hours after training camp breaks is just not a good look. And what is worse of course is that Aqib Talib has an extensive history of getting into trouble. This coming on the heels of the Tanard Jackson suspension and one would have to ask who was coaching these guys last year.


Fantasy Football

I am in the process of setting up a league just as a hobby. If anyone wants to join my league just send me an
and I will send you the log in information. Its obviously first come first serve so drop me a line ASAP!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where Are They Now?

It hurts me deeply that Roy Jones Jr has fallen off so hard that I didn't even realize he had a fight last Friday. His opponent, Jeff Lacy, has taken quite a stumble too. In the end Roy still had enough left in the tank to dominate Lacy and win a fringe light heavyweight belt. Here is a clip of the guy showing he still got it, at least a little bit of it anyway...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The Bucs losing Tanard Jackson for the first four games of the season because of a violation of the NFL substance abuse policy is going to hurt big time. Its not that I don't think Will Allen can play, he certainly can. But the fact is he is not near the playmaker that Jackson is and with Jackson out there won't be much depth at safety at all. With Allens hit first mentality its highly likely that his physical play may cause him to miss some time during those games. Who do the Bucs turn to then? Just the fact that they have Jermaine Phillips practicing some back at safety shows you just how messy this could get for them.

I won't just Tanard but I do hope he gets the help he needs and comes back and finishes up the season strong. The kid has too much potential to let something like this derail his career.

Piss Or Get Off The Pot

Someone please get this Brett Favre soap opera off my TV! He has made it so that even though I had huge respect for the guy and loved playing against him, I am not actively rooting for him to sign with Minnesota just so he can screw up their team chemistry and so he can face Green Bay again where he gets sacked 5 times or so and gets pummelled out of the game for good. What he is doing is wrong for the game and wrong for his legacy, and to the extent that the Vikings are enabling him, specifically their Head Coach Brad Childress, they deserve to have a total implosion this year so managment can clean house.

Update: Favre signs. My Viking hate begins in earnest now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Breaking: NFL Player Punches Assistant Coach And Sends Him To The Hospital!

Actually it wasn't a player but an NFL Head Coach, the Raiders' Tom Cable, who punched one of his assistant coaches who ended up having to seek medical treatment.

But just imagine what the lede would be on SportsCenter and other outlets if it HAD been a player.

Quote Of The Day

"I deserved to lose $130 million."

Mike Vick on 60 Minutes.

You can see the full interview here. I found it compelling.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Usain Bolt isn't human.

Update: Cue the video.

Game Review: Titans Preseason Game

Ok I have taken the time out to go through the film and here are my thoughts on the game last night going postion by position.


Quarterback: Obviously this will be one of the most scrutinized battles of this year. First up we had Josh McCown. I am firmly in the camp that think this is his job to lose. I don't think he did anything to hurt himself last night and he managed the game well. He also did a great job of escaping the rush a few times and making something out of nothing. I really think that in the end his mobility is what will help McCown keep a hold on that starting position. In this league these days, the pass rushers are just too good and the blitzes are too exotic for teams to afford to have a guy pulling the trigger who can't elude the rush.

Which of course brings us to Byron Leftwich. He showed off his cannon last night big time, taking several shots down the field. He also threw a laser to Brian Clark for a touchdown. But later on one drive he showed what to me will be his downfall when he lost a ton of yards trying to elude the Titan's pass rush. His mobility or lack thereof is going to be an issue, especially in an office like this one that uses so many bootleg and play action passes. Still he will be a great asset as a back up should McCown falter.

Josh Freeman isn't ready but then most rookies aren't. He didn't look shaken by the moment though and he does have a big arm. Bottom line is that if Josh Freeman starts this year that will mean that the team is in BIG trouble.

I was excited to see Josh Johnson get in the game and make some plays. Im telling you that TD run of his when the protection broke down was pretty Vickesque in my opinion. He took off and nobody could catch up to the kid. I really think he is a long shot at best to make the team and with the drafting of Freeman I'm not sure he should even want to be here but I hope he catches another team's eye so he can get picked up on waivers and possibly contribute.

Running backs: This will be one of the strongest and deepest groups on the team. Earnest Graham, Derrick Ward, and Clifton Smith all ran relatively well aside from Graham's fumble. And they all kind of bring a little something different to the table.

The wildcard to me in this group is Kareem Hudgins. I should say he is the wildcard for Cadillac Williams. Hudgins looked REAL good last night, and even though he was going against backups the kid showed up on film. What you have to keep in mind is that its a rarity for a team to ever keep four tailbacks in the first place. So even if Hudgins were not in the mix what you have in front of Caddy is last years' starter, this years' free agent pickup, and last years' Pro Bowl kick returner. How exactly does he overcome all that? And if Hudgins is servicable and knows his assignments how can the Bucs justify carrying Williams on their 53? As a former first round pick coming off 2 consecutive seasons with major knee injuries I don't forsee Cadillac being a contributor on special teams which is what most back up running backs have to be. And I don't know that he is as good a runner at this point as the three guys in front of him let alone Hudgins. So I am predicting that if the other guys stay healthy all preseason you will see Williams either traded or cut. That's not necessarily what I want to happen but it is what I believe will happen. Its a business.

Tight Ends: Nothing notable with this group other than, of course, the first action of Kellen Winslow as a Buccaneer. I thought all of the guys did a pretty good job and I think this is a group that is pretty much set in who will be making the team.

Wide Receivers: The commentators last night had a lot of good things to say about Sammie Stroughter but the guy I think flashed the most was Brian Clark. It wasn't just that he caught a TD and created a safety on special teams. It was also how polished he looked as a receiver. A big receiver at that. His combination of size, speed, and quickness is going to make the Bucs take a long look at him as a number 3 receiver if not better.

Maurice Stovall is a guy I have been a fan of for a long time didnt show me much last night but in a preseason game its hard to gauge that for a wideout. Ill reserve judgment on where he is at until I see more of him.

Stroughter definitely made a good impression last night making some good catches and showing some speed and wiggle on returns. Not sure he will make the roster since we already have a Pro Bowl returner in Smith but I can see him being on the practice squad.

Dexter Jackson is out of here. Not really sure what Gruden ever saw in the kid but he just isn't getting the job done down here and he is frail or soft or both. You can't make the club in the tub and he seems to be there all the time.

Of the rest of the group nobody stood out. I like Mario Urrutia's potential but as a good friend of mine always said "potential just means you haven't done shit yet".

Offensive Line: I thought this group did well for the most part but Sean Mahan got his ass kicked several times by the nosetackle who ended up making several plays in the backfield. Jeremy Zuttah did a good job in my opinion replacing Aaron Sears who is still missing in action. Doesn't look like they will miss Sears much if Zuttah keeps playing to his potential.

Of the backups the one guy who stood out to me was Julius Wilson. A few years back I noticed Donald Penn mauling guys in the preseason and I told everybody at the time that he was going to be really good. Turns out I he got an opportunity early on that regular season and he proved me right. And since that time Penn has played at pretty close to a Pro Bowl level.

Last night Wilson kind of gave me the same impression. He didn't look as athletic as Penn did back then but he just looks mean and agressive which to me helps to make up for any physical shortcomings. I will definitey be keeping an eye on that guy.


Defensive Line: I didn't see much pass rush out of the group last night but watching it again this morning I noticed that Ryan Sims got some good push up the middle and collapsed the pocket a few times. He didn't really make any moves per se but he has an excellent bull rush. But other than he I didn't see a lot out of the first group. I don't think any of the starters touched Kerry Collins all night. Several times it was a 3 step drop so thats is a part of it, but when you have those kinds of quick passes you have to bullrush your guy and get him pushed back into the QB's face.

I didn't see much from Gaines Adams last night and honestly I expected more. I have been hearing that he is putting in good work at practice but when the lights go on you have to find a way to make plays. It is what it is. He didn't do anything wrong but he just didn't make anything happen either. He didn't show up in the stat sheet at all.

Now on the other hand, Greg White (I refuse to call a grown man Stylez G)made all kinds of plays. An interception, a sack, a tackle for loss. The guy showed up on film and in the stat sheet. Don't get me wrong, on the interception and on the sack, White had been stoned in his pass rush. But some how some way he still made something happen. And to be fair he had a few great rushes even after all that where he got to the QB just a step late.

Which brings me to another question. Could White possibly unseat Gaines at RE?

Head Coach Raheem Morris hasn't been shy about calling Gaines out and raising his bar. He has said several times that for Gaines its double digit sacks or bust. There was also a recent article in the local paper about how Gaines had gone Chuck Smith's pass rush camp and had gotten a lot better. Now understand this, I am a fan of Gaines' and full disclosure I tried to give him a little bit of pass rush advice of my own during his rookie year. Don't know how much it helped if at all but I tried.

But this is bigger than how I feel about him. Its about who is the best RE for the Bucs and honestly Greg White is and has been the best pass rusher on the team for the last couple of years. In my mind if you have two REs who are similarly able to play the run then you go with the better pass rusher and I am just not sure that anybody can say credibly that Gaines is a better pass rusher than White at this point.

However when I asked around about whether White could unseat Gaines it seemed pretty clear that that was not an option. So we shall see.

Now a major concern for the Bucs should be the depth on the defensive line. I really didn't see anybody other than the top 3 defensive ends and top 3 defensive tackles who I feel comfortable saying can play at this level. Now thats good enough going into a game I suppose, but with just one injury that can put a major strain on the group. But its early in preseason and they do have a chance to develop but if i were the Bucs I would be watching the waiver wire to try to bring in at least one more veteran on the defensive line.

Linebackers: This is another group that looks to be pretty deep. I was particularly interested to see how Jermaine Phillips held up last night playing linebacker for the first time. I really didn't get to see him in a lot of situations where he had to fend off blocks but he moved pretty well and made one really good read when he shot the gap into the backfield and just barely missed Chris Johnson. Well he didn't actually miss him but his initial blow didn't bring the guy down. The Bucs used Quincy Black in a variety of roles last night including rushing the passer as a LE. He looked pretty good over all. Back up Adam Hayward was all over the field though. He made a really good impression last night.

One guy who didn't make a good impression at all to me was Niko Koutouvides. On the Javon Ringer TD run the guy looked like he just gave up and made a piss poor effort to make the tackle. Ill be honest, it looked like he didn't want it. And that's not the kind of guy I would want on my team.

Secondary: The secondary might have had the best day of everyone as a group. The corners were excellent in run support, particularly Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber, and Sabby Piscitelli was all over the plays making tackles and also reeling in an interception in the endzone. They also have a lot of quality depth going almost three deep at each position of guys with a lot of ability. I was a little worried about Will Allen's injury last night. He is definitely a hitter but sometimes that works against him. I thought he had a good chance to make a play on the ball on a deep seam pattern but he chose to hit the receiver instead. The only problem is the guy caught the ball and hung on to it. At some poing Will has to learn that breaking up the pass has to be more important than making the big hit every time.

Special Teams: Special Teams did some good things and some bad things last night. A 50 yard field goal, a safety, and some pretty good returns were the good things. Way too many penalties on returns and a missed field goal was the bad thing. Definitely need to get those penalties corrected.

One more thing in closing, the Offense obviously needs to preach ball security. The ball was on the ground way too much last night and that's the quickest way to lose the game. He who makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.

That's it for this review, see you again next week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Son Will Play Catcher!

Both of my kids are left handed which of course has made for some adjustments. They write differently, heck they even read definitely so I have had to become familiar with the unique challenges that left handed folks face.

But this New York Times article was pretty startling to me. Did you know there aren't any left handed catchers in the Major Leagues and haven't been for a very long time?

The letters keep coming. Every few weeks, Benny Distefano will open his mail and find a letter from a Little Leaguer, or a parent of one, asking for advice. He is the only person they know who understands.

Twenty years ago, Distefano, then a hanging-on major leaguer, served as a left-handed catcher in a major league baseball game. No one has done so since. Like Ladies Night and pitchers named Wilbur, left-handed catchers are effectively extinct — for reasons on which there is bizarrely little consensus.

“I have no idea,” said Joe Mauer, the Minnesota Twins’ All-Star catcher (right-handed, naturally).

“Is it because there are more right-handed hitters?” offered Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann.

“There’s been nobody come into a game for 20 years? Really?” said a nonplussed Joe Torre, an All-Star catcher throughout the 1960s. “Well, first off, left-handed pitchers don’t throw the ball straight.”

Major league teams have been panting for more catchers since shinguards, begging for mothers to allow their sons to play there, and yet they cut off an entire stream of talent that happens to throw left-handed. In the last 100 years, Dale Long caught two innings for the Chicago Cubs in 1958, Mike Squires the same for the 1980 White Sox.

And since Aug. 18, 1989, when Distefano caught for the last time, baseball has embraced retro uniforms and even revenue sharing — but not the likes of Distefano. The minor leagues do not have one left-handed catcher right now.

“It’s a slow-changing game,” said Distefano, now the hitting coach of the West Michigan Whitecaps, a Detroit Tigers Class A affiliate. “It takes a creative manager that’s willing to go with something that might be a little outside the box.”

I grew up playing baseball and I am a pretty big fan of our team down here, the Rays. But it never even occured to me that there were no left handed catchers. Well I can tell you one thing, if my son decides he wants to play baseball he will definitely play some catcher. I have a feeling that at some point they might be in demand if for no reason other than nobody else will have one on their team.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bucs Versus Titans Preseason Live Blog

Live Blogging the Bucs Game

Doubling Down On Fuckery

Last night's announcement that Michael Vick was signing with the Eagles brought a lot of different reactions. But one reaction in particular was particularly irritating to me. All of these people started weighing in saying that Donovan McNabb was going to be pissed about the signing and that there was no way they could coexist together. Mind you none of this is based on anything other than wild speculation. The going meme now is that McNabb was pissed off about Jeff Garcia doing well the year that he went down with a knee injury. Never mind that Garcia wanted a pay raise and a starting job, it seems that the story now is that McNabb somehow ran him out of town.


One of the outlets that really stood out for all the wrong reasons in this regard is Pro Football Talk whom I normally like reading. When the story first broke they created a meme and they were bound and determined not to let anything change it.

Now mind you they started off pretty reasonably if you ask me. Here is how they reported on it early on:

A case could be made that one giant housecleaning could leave Vick in town, with McNabb elsewhere, but it's hard to imagine the pairing lasting more than one year together.

There is a lot to dive into regarding Vick's signing (what about poor A.J. Feeley?), but the angle that McNabb should feel threatened this year seems likely to be overblown.

Philadelphia is giving Vick a chance to re-start his career, but in football terms he's a moderately priced insurance policy.

That's a pretty sound way of looking at the situation.

But then everything goes left when they get a "source" telling them that McNabb isn't happy about the signing.

According to a league source with intimate knowledge of the dynamics within the organization, McNabb isn't pleased with the development.

But McNabb can't say anything about it for now, due in part to the fact that the Eagles gave him a money-for-nothing contract adjustment and otherwise spent a lot of cash and first-day picks to improve the offense, at McNabb's urging.

So things will get very interesting if the Eagles struggle in 2009, since the option for the second year of Vick's contract will prompt speculation and/or popular opinion that the Eagles should dump Donovan and promote Vick.

If you want to know what that translates to, some jack ass that used to play in the league guessed that McNabb wouldn't like it if the Eagles signed Vick. That somehow gets translated into fact by PFT. Mind you this comes out while the Eagles are still on the field playing so its not like anybody could have already gotten McNabb's reaction to the signing when they published this post.

Ok fine well surely when McNabb speaks on it people will hear for themsleves his take on the situation right?

Uhmmm not so much.

I happened to catch McNabb at the podium after their preseason game with the Patriots and I heard him say all of the right things. Not only that, he also touched on having a personal friendship with Vick and most illuminating of all was that he said several times that he actually lobbied for the Eagles to sign Vick after he got out of jail. Now PFT themselves acknowledged in their earlier post that McNabb had said many things in support of Vick since he had been in trouble with the dog fighting ring. But in their post about McNabb's comments they didn't even include the fact that he said he lobbied for Vick to come to Philly.

Nope, this is how they characterized his remarks.

"There's no threat for me," McNabb said at a press conference after Thursday night's preseason game. "There's no threat for [Kevin] Kolb. It's an opportunity to add another weapon to our offense, and our team."

Still, McNabb used words like "adversity" and "ordeal" when talking about the presence of Vick on the team, which in our view weren't used accidentally.

You will note that they have now updated the post to include the fact that McNabb said he lobbied for Vick. They updated it of course with out noting the update so people would think it was always there. But I saw it last night and it wasn't there. Not only that, check out the first comment on the blog.

BroadStreetBully9286 says:
August 13, 2009 11:30 PM
How come you're not highlighting his repeated assertion that he has lobbied for this?!

Now if you read the thread you can see that PFT in general and Mike Florio in particular is getting bashed over their characterization of McNabb's words. So what do they do? Yes they pull a switcheroo and slip the line in the post about McNabb lobbying for Vick, but then they turn around and double down on their "McNabb is pissed" meme.

So with everyone in Philly who has a vested rooting interest in seeing Armageddon not unfold in the locker room prepared to accept without reservation Donovan McNabb's assertion that he "pretty much lobbied" the team to sign Vick (something that, interestingly, the head coach didn't mention), we ask you this: Would you like to buy the Ben Franklin Bridge?

Reid lied, multiple times, about not wanting Vick. Why? To make the rest of the league (and everyone else) think Reid didn't want Vick until Reid decided he did.

That fact alone should prove to anyone who follows the NFL that nothing anyone says can be automatically believed.

McNabb, as we pointed out last night when explaining that he's actually pissed about the acquisition of Vick, had no choice but to sit there and smile and act like everything is fine, despite likely muttering internally all the while, "Serenity now."

At this point, these guys just come off as major dicks quite honestly. This is why professional athletes have such a disdain for some of the members of the media. They will decide what a story is and then discard any evidence to the contrary. It doesn't matter to them that Andy Reid himself talked for a long time about how long McNabb and Vick had been friends, all the way back to when McNabb hosted Vick on his recruiting trip to Syrause. Nah, see since they already have this "McNabb is pissed" story, they just look over that and move on to trying to imply that McNabb was lying about lobbying for Vick since Reid didn't come out and blatantly say he did.

What is worse about this from my perspective is that there are fans out there who will read PFT and ASSume that they have some kind of special inside knowledge of what's going on. Doesn't matter that PFT had been running around for the last week or so claiming to have a list of who will and who won't sign Vick and were totally caught flat footed when he signed with the Eagles.

Above and beyond that, when was the last time you heard a story line about a white quarterback being threatened by another white quarterback coming in? I remember vividly Brett Favre rejecting the notion that he would mentor Aaron Rodgers. But did any sports news outlets frame the story the way they are framing this one? I don't think so.

Hopefully at some point they will go back to their more reasoned take on the situation from early on and drop this McNabb versus Vick story line. But I am not going to hold my breath.

Update: After the press conference today and after the acknowledgement of how instrumental Donovan McNabb was in bringing Mike Vick to Philly, Pro Football Talk ought to retract every statement they made yesterday about McNabb being upset.

Vick To The Iggles!

Michael Vick has just signed a two year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Quarterback Michael Vick has signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, his agent, Joel Segal, confirmed to

Vick arrived in Philadelphia Tuesday morning and remained there Wednesday evening. The Eagles will hold a news conference on Friday morning to announce his signing. The first year of the deal is for $1.6 million deal with an option for the second year at $5.2 million, reports.

Vick was the No. 1 draft pick in 2001, and once the highest-paid player in football. But he has not played since 2006 when his career came tumbling down. He was convicted in August 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting operation, sentenced to 23 months in federal prison and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

But after serving his time and being released from home confinement July 20, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally lifted Vick's suspension, allowing him to sign with a team.

Vick can immediately take part in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and can play in the final two preseason games.

Now if Andy Reid can fit him into some kind of package where he can get 10 or so plays a game, this might make a HUGE difference in the NFC East. But understand something, if Vick is starting games for the Eagles this year then that means their season has gone TERRIBLY wrong. So please keep that in mind before anybody goes off half cocked talking about a quarterback controversy or something. Vick is there to help McNabb as one of his weapons, not the other way around.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Live Blogging The Superbowl Rematch

Join me Thursday evening at 8:00pm for a discussion of the Arizona Cardinals vs Pittsburgh Steelers game.

Stallworth Suspended For The Season

Im not really sure about any "stain" that Roger Goddell is talking about here in his letter informing Cleveland Browns reciever, Donte Stallworth, of his season long suspension but I think its a fair outcome. Someone lost their life and Stallworth had been drinking, there had to be some kind of punishment with that no matter what the courts said.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Semi Bold Prediction

With all the focus being on Roy Williams in Dallas, Patrick Crayton will lead the team in receptions.

I think a lot of people, including the local Dallas press is sleeping on Crayton because he has been around for awhile. But as far as I can tell he has been the most consistent reciever in camp and he has a knack for getting open. I still expect Williams to get more yardage but Crayton will catch between 70 and 80 balls.

Write it down, take a picture, I don't give a fcuk!

Media Coverage Of Rick Pitino Vs Steve McNair

Rick Pitino is in hot water.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino told police that he had consensual sex with and paid for an abortion for the woman who has been charged with trying to extort him, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Tuesday.

Karen Cunagin Sypher was federally charged in April with demanding cars, tuition for her children and finally $10 million. Police interviewed Pitino, who is married, regarding the incident last month, and according to the newspaper, he said that he gave the woman $3,000 to have an abortion.

Police records obtained by the Courier-Journal show that Pitino said he had sex with the then Karen Cunagin at a Louisville restaurant where he had been drinking on Aug. 1, 2003. He denied Cunagin Sypher's allegations that he raped her at the restaurant and then again later at a different location.

Pitino told police that Cunagin Sypher called him about two weeks after the initial encounter and said that she was pregnant. They arranged to meet at the condominium of Louisville strength coach Tim Sypher, whom she did not know at that time but would later marry.

According to the police report, Pitino said Cunagin Sypher had decided to get an abortion but claimed to not have health insurance. Pitino then gave her the $3,000. He told police that the two did not have sex at the condo or at any other location.

According to the report, Cunagin Sypher married Tim Sypher about six months later and, though she saw Pitino at team events, he claims there was never "any strange behavior." Cunagin Sypher and Tim Sypher are now estranged.

I think it will be interesting to see how the media covers Rick Pitino after this. Steve McNair's body was barely cold before the media was all over him because of his indiscretions. Don't get me wrong, obviously McNair's cheating contributed to his own death. But on the other hand people trust Rick Pitino to be a role model for their kids. To be a second father or even a father figure to many of the young men who play for him at Louisville. To me that means he should be held ot a higher standard. Now let's see if the media feels the same way.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Live Blogging The Hall Of Fame Game

I am going to do a test run of liveblogging with the NFL Hall of Fame preseason game tomorrow. Come on by and enjoy the festivities.

Can Not Play With Them, Can Not Win With Them, Can Not Coach With Them, Can't Do It

Most football fans remember 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary's rant last year about Vernon Davis, but for those who don't here is a refresher.

Now I realize that everybody is allowed to make a few mistakes, especially young players. But I am also keenly aware that there are some complete head cases in the NFL. You never want to line up with all choir boys but you do need everyone to understand the difference between showing emotion and hurting your team. Vernon Davis still doesn't seem to get it, and I am begginning to think he is one of those head cases. Check out what Frank Gore, pretty much THE offense for the 49ers, had to say about Davis.

Frank Gore wants to see more maturity out of Vernon Davis, and he told him so.

"It's his fourth year now. Now it's time," Gore said Saturday.

The 49ers running back spoke to reporters a day after Davis said some teammates were upset by his latest training-camp fight. Coach Mike Singletary punished the entire team after Davis' scuffle by making players run sideline-to-sideline sprints.

Gore was among those unamused.

"I wasn't mad about having to run gassers," he said. "I just feel it's his fourth year now, and I told him it shouldn't be him now. Everybody makes mistakes but it shouldn't be him. OK, a rookie? I accept that."

Gore and Davis have a friendly relationship and joke around frequently in the locker room. Before talking to reporters Saturday, Gore said he already had spoken to the tight end about the matter, telling him: "It's time to be a man and try to do everything right. There are younger guys who probably look up to you on the team."

Now think about how bad it looks for the most important option on offense to have to call out one of the best options in the passing game for being a dumbass. But if that wasn't bad enough get a load of this clown's response.

Davis said of that experience: "A few guys were mad, but like I told them you can't get mad because there will be a time you make the rest of us run. I told them they should be happy that I made them run because it's extra work for us and a chance for us to get better."

Vernon Davis will be the same asshole who gets a dumb penalty and costs the 49ers a game and then who will stand up and say that you can't blame just him. He doesn't get it, and it doesn't seem like he will any time soon. Now maybe if he had shown in the past that he could fight in practice and then refrain during the games that would be one thing. But instead every bad habit he has in practice carries over to the game. Now he already has his Head Coach send him packing during the game last year now he has their franchise offensive player calling him out and instead of pledging to do better he is saying people should thank him?

I tell you what, if he gets stupid penalties again this year a lot of fans will thank Coach Singletary after he benches his crazy ass.

One thing I learned from Coach Tony Dungy playing under him that the best 53 guys for a team are not always the 53 best guys. But a team is about coming together to accomplish something bigger than any one person. And I just don't think Vernon Davis is ever going to understand that.

Doing What They Do

On an otherwise pedestrian UFC 101 fight card, the two headliners showed why they were featured in the co main events.

First Anderson "The Spider" Silva served Forrest Griffin a two piece which resulted in a dislocated jaw.

I am sure this YouTube won't last long so enjoy it while you can!

Then BJ "The Prodigy" Penn choked out Kenny "KenFlo" Florian to retain his lightweight belt.

Next up for me is the new season of "The Ultimate Fighter" which will feature an ex teammate of mine, Marcus Jones. Marcus is probably the strongest guy I have ever been around and I will be pulling for him every week. In a dream match up he would face YouTube sensation, Kimbo Slice in the finals. I am pretty sure that would put some asses in the seats.

I guess I shouldn't say next up exactly because tonight Miguel Torres will be fighting on Versus defending his WEC belt. If you are a MMA fan you definitely want to check him out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Filthy Rich Get Even Filthy Richer

You might remember that a few days ago I picked the New England Patriots as my favorite to win it all this year. Well after they traded for elite pass rusher, the Oakland Raiders' Derrick Burgess, I have a feeling more people will jump on that bandwagon.

From Pro Football Talk

After an offseason worth of rumors indicating a deal might happen, the Patriots acquired Derrick Burgess from the Raiders Thursday. (In a sign of the times, they announced it via their Twitter feed.)New England will give up "undisclosed draft considerations" in the move.

Oakland was believed to be looking for two mid-round picks in the deal, but it's unclear if they got them.Burgess is expected to convert to outside linebacker in New England, where the team is in need of a pass rusher.

Make no mistake about it, Burgess had a bad year last year but the guy can rush the passer like nobody's business and he should definitely make an impact for that defense, barring injury.

Michael Crabtree Needs To Fire His Cousin

I am not a guy who likes to say people need to be fired. You will rarely see me say a Coach needs to be fired or a player needs to be cut. Its a very serious thing in my mind to call for someone to lose their job. You are talking about taking food off their family's table and potentially uprooting them from the neighborhood that they live in. I personally don't think its something to be taken lightly.

Having said that, Michael Crabtree needs to fire his agent Eugene Parker cousin, David Wells. And I am pretty sure Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker agrees with me.

From ESPN:

San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree is prepared to sit out this season and re-enter the NFL draft in 2010, David Wells, Crabtree's cousin and adviser, said Thursday.

"We are prepared to do it," Wells said. "Michael just wants fair-market value. They took him with the 10th pick and you have Darrius Heyward-Bey [the seventh overall pick by the Oakland Raiders] getting $38 million? This week is crucial. Michael was one of the best players in the draft and he just wants to be paid like one of the best players. This week is very crucial."

However, Crabtree's agent told that no such threat has been made on his part.

Addressing the report, agent Eugene Parker told on Thursday afternoon: "You've known me a long time and I'm not a guy who makes threats. Nor am I a guy who negotiates in the public. I don't know where this came from but no such threat has been made."

Wells said he believes the Niners have made an offer but that it is not acceptable. Wells said Crabtree is ready to start practicing and was held out of OTAs this spring by coaches only for precautionary reasons.

This is why you don't hire family in this kind of a business situation.

Obviously his cousin, Mr. Wells doesn't understand what the hell it means to make that kind of threat to an NFL team and pass it off as credible. He also is obviously oblivious to the fact that Crabtree has already garnered, rightly or wrongly, a reputation as a "diva". Making a statement about sitting out the season is not only ridiculous, it is also reckless and it could cost his cousin money.

I know blood is thicker than water, or so the saying goes, but Crabtree needs to cut bait right now with his cousin and let the guys he is paying to negotiate his contract be allowed to negotiate his contract.

What The Bucs' Pass Rush Is Missing

Stephen Holder of the St Petersburg Times has a pretty good article about the Buccaneer's need for a "fierce pass rush". Here is an excerpt.

The Bucs have not mustered a steady pass rush in the past several seasons. So now that quarterback pressure is central to their defensive scheme, how do the Bucs inject life into it?

By doing anything and everything.

It's all on the table: blitzes, position changes and ever-changing lineups. The Bucs believe the time has come to get creative and take chances.

If that means linebacker Quincy Black lines up with his hand in the dirt, so be it. If it calls for rookie defensive end Kyle Moore to slide inside and exploit a slow-footed guard, that's okay, too. And if the secondary is asked to hold its ground longer, then that's a price the Bucs are willing to pay.

Part of the challenge is that Tampa Bay is looking for results similar to those produced by its quarterback nemeses of yesteryear but is attempting to get them with unproven commodities such as Jimmy Wilkerson and Gaines Adams.

"They have to do better," coach Raheem Morris said. "When we talk about more pass rush, we're comparing them to Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp, Greg Spires, Booger McFarland. Those guys gave you more.

"Anything you ask (Sapp) to do, he's going to get it. Anything you ask Simeon to do as far as the pass rush, it was going to be dynamic. It was going to be special. (The current) guys are being compared to those guys in their second and third years. It's been unfair for them. But they have to come into their own."

It feels like eons have passed since the Bucs recorded eye-popping sack totals such as the franchise-record 55 in 2000 under Tony Dungy. They have averaged 29 in the past three seasons, but new coordinator Jim Bates is prepared to take chances to ensure the numbers increase.


Beyond the blitz, it's likely the Bucs will use a number of unconventional lineups along the line. Like a pair of basketball coaches, Bates and Morris are looking for mismatches that will take advantage of their players' strengths.

"Those combinations are going to confuse people, hopefully," Morris said. "Maybe I have a chance to get Gaines on a slug right tackle. We may try to exploit it. Or here is a matchup we like with Quincy Black. Let's stay with this package. Once we get to the game, we can dictate who we are going to go at."

This theoretically will make scouting the Bucs more of a challenge. When a guard or tackle can't predict who will line up across from him, he perhaps has a harder time knowing what to expect.

"That lineman has to study everybody because he'll never know who's going to be down there in front of him," Moore said. "We have all kinds of tricks up our sleeves."

Here is the deal, every team in the NFL needs a "fierce passrush". There isn't a Defensive Coordinator in the league that will tell you that they can get away with a mediocre passrush and win very many games. So the premise of the story is kind of meh to me but I give Holder props for the details he includes in the article.

Now I just so happened to have had the priveledge to play on that 2000 defensive line that produced those "eye popping" numbers. And that gives me a unique perspective on what has been missing from the Bucs' pass rush over the last few years. Contrary to popular belief it doesn't just come down to the personnel that left, although that certainly didn't help. To me the difference is that the pass rush moved away from being a coordinated effort and instead turned into a free for all. And unfortunately it looks like it may get worse under Coach Bates.

So what do I mean by "coordinated effort"? Back when I was playing with the Bucs and at least through the rest of Rod Marinelli's tenure, pass rush was about mismatches. Now when most people hear mismatches they think of a one one one situation. But we didnt' confine ourselves to that. For most of my career I played with one of the best defensive lineman ever to strap it on in Warren Sapp. So on most days he was going to have a favorable matchup somewhere along the offensive line. But you have to remember that an offensive line has 5 guys to block our (usually) 4 guys. That means that if they set the protection right (which direction the center blocks)they could, in theory, double team Sapp on every pass play.

Don't get me wrong, the big fella could beat a hell of a lot of double teams all by himself. But why put that onus on him if you didn't have to?

On the flip side of it the other 3 guys ended up with one on one opportunities when Sapp got the double team and when that happen we had to win. But if you only do one on one rushes all game long the offensive lineman can just start cheating their sets. This creates a situation where you could end up with a choice of either taking the scenic route to the Quarterback or trying an inside move and potentially losing contain.

And let me tell you something brother, you did NOT want to have to come back to the huddle if you lost containment and Sapp had a good rush going.

So in our meetings leading up to the game what we would do is identify keys that helped us to know before a snap which way a team was sending their center. We then used that information in several different ways. For one we tried to make sure that Sapp lined up away from the double team. That created a situtation where they either had to keep the protection on as they were coached giving Sapp a one on one or they had to break their rules which could lead to someone going the wrong way. Either choice usually ended up being a bad one for them.

But the other thing we did which the Bucs' haven't done well pretty much since Sapp left, is we incorporaed line games into our game plan based on their protection schemes. If we knew that the center was sliding to Sapp we could call a game where he takes an outside rush and the defensive end to his side comes inside of him. What is usually known as a TEX game was one of the most devastating weapons in our arsenal. When executed correctly it would give Sapp a one on one opportunity with an unsuspecting Offensive Tackle. In general it also succeeded in pushing the pocket back into the quarterback's face.

When we knew a center was going away from a certain side we could also use an EX game where the Defensive End comes inside and blasts the offensive guard and then the Defensive Tackle to that side loops around outside. This game could serve two purposes. Not only was it a way to potentially put immediate pressure in the quarterback's face, it also provided an opportunity to punish the offensive guard. When you think back to the Superbowl win of 2002, one of the enduring images is of Greg Spires flattening the Raiders' right guard on the way to the Quarterback. That ladies and gentleman was an EX game.

What these kinds of games also accomplished was that they closed off the passing/escape lanes for the Quarterback. When you rush one on one all of the time in general you leave at least one gap open which a QB can see the field from and or take off running through.

Now what worries me about Coach Morris' and Coach Bates' approach is that it seems that they are still just looking for one one one match ups. Don't get me wrong, it will be great if Gaines Adams, Greg White or even Quincy Black can be double digit sack guys all on their own but that is not usually how it works in this league. Constantly changing the lineupu just for the sake of match up instead of having a core group that rushes in a coordinated fashion just seems destined to fail from my point of view. You actually help an offense, not hurt it when you rely on one on one rushers. They never have to think about where they want to slide the protection.

Now maybe they will use pass rush games and they just aren't talking about it right now. And I for one wouldn't really expect them to hand a copy out of their game plan to a journalist. Still I one of the things I will be watching very closely is what they do on 3rd and medium or better. If all I see is a bunch of guys dancing to the beat of their own drum early on then I won't have high expectation of they having that "fierce passrush" that they speak of so sorely needing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Get Your Popcorn Ready


Since walking away from the NFL sidelines, Tony Dungy has -- among other endeavors --counseled Michael Vick, landed a football commentator's gig on NBC and caught a bunch of his son's seven-on-seven games for Plant High.

Now, Dungy is set to star in what could be a memorable preseason film session for many local prep teams.

On Aug. 25, four bay theaters (and three others just outside the area) will show Tony Dungy's Red Zone '09, a one-night-only film featuring Dungy, pro football hall-of-famer Michael Irvin, hall-of-famer-to-be Peyton Manning and USC coach Pete Carroll, among others.

According to a promotional release, the film "will engage and motivate high school football players as well as give them unprecedented access to professional coaches and players who will present inside tips on football, the keys to winning at any position, and discuss the importance of hard work, team building, conditioning, skills development and mental toughness."

This strikes me as a wonderful idea and I hope as many families in the Tampa Bay area go out to see this film session as possible. Coach Dungy is a man I truly admire and it always seemed like the lessons he taught were applicable to life in general. I certainly will make every effort to be in attendance.

Monday, August 3, 2009


You had to know that this was coming.

ESPN reports that receiver Plaxico Burress has been indicted on felony weapons charges arising from the November 2008 incident in a Manhattan nightclub, during which Burress accidentally shot himself with a gun he was toting in the waistband of his sweatpants.

According to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN, Burress has been indicted on two counts of felony criminal possession of a loaded firearm, both of which carry mandatory minimum terms of 3.5 years. He also has been indicted on one count of reckless endangerment, which entails a mandatory minimum sentence of one year.

When it first happened I kinda felt like just by getting shot Plaxico had already learned his lesson. But after thinking about it the truth is this guy knew better. I know because when I was in the NFL every year they had NFL security to come in and give everyone a talk about issues like gun laws and how to stay out of trouble if you own a gun.

Now are they prosecuting him because he is a NFL star?


But so what? The guy still broke the law, it is what it is. Besides that he put other people in danger by being so reckless. I don't necessarily think he should spend a lot of time in jail. But if he gets time it will probably be because he deserves it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Man!

Congratulations go out to Lee Roy Selmon.

From the St Pete. Times:

Hall-of-Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon will be introduced in a press conference Monday as the Bucs' first member of the new Ring of Honor.

Selmon, who is the only Buccaneers enshrined in the hall, will attend the press conference.

I can tell you from personal experience that Mr. Selmon is a better person than he was a football player and that is saying a lot. There is no one more deserving to be the inaugural Buccaneer inducted into the Ring of Honor.

What Part Of The Game Is This?!

As a former player I am all for reigning in the amount of contact that goes on during training camp. But this new age crap that Tom Cable is doing as head coach of the Oakland Raiders is ridiculous! If there is one team in the league that needs more contact, not less, its "Da Raidas".

This will not end well.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Sleeper Playoff Pick

I will be keeping an eye on the San Francisco 49ers this year. I think that the combination of having Mike Singletary as head coach for a full year, with having a run oriented Offensive Coordinator in Jimmy Raye will tranlate into a lot more wins in a division that to me is up for grabs. Nobody knows how the Seattle Seahawks will react to new head coach nor how their offense will fare with the return of Matt Hassleback. The St. Louis Rams also have a new head coach in and look to be rebuilding with their jettisoning of perrinial Pro Bowlers, Orlando Pace and Tory Holt. Now I know a lot of people would say that the Arizona Cardinals are an obvious choice to repeat as Division Champions, however I don't know about that one. First they lost their Offensive Coordinator, Todd Haley, to a head coaching job. Second Kurt Warner is coming off hip surgery, and third due to offseason discord with several key players over new contracts, it remainns to be seen what kind of team chemistry they will have.

The 49ers have been quietly assembling a lot of talent over the years but I don't think they ever used that talent effectively until Singletary took over at the end of last year. They had one of the better running backs in the league in Frank Gore, yet they ran the ball all the time. On the flip side they had a very athletic Tight End in Vernon Davis but they made him into mostly a blocker. And of course we know how bad their QB play has been until the end of last year. Well I personally think that was a product of throwing too much and also not being able to protect very well.

On Defense they have a LOT of talent but they were moving them around so much that most of their guys never could get into a groove. Now we learn that for the most part they are going to let guys play their position this year. I think that will help them tremendously and a guy I think will have a big year this year for them is Manny Lawson at outside linebacker. I really liked the guy coming out of NC State where he played along side the Texans' Mario Williams.

Now obviously some things have to happen for them to turn it around in one year. For one they have to pick a quarterback who won't give the game away. For two they have to avoid injuries. I think those are the two most important factors in them getting to the playoffs this year. I think both are doable and that they will get it done.

Lastly I think rookie Glenn Coffey out of Alabama will make a major difference this year spelling Gore at running back. He may even end up in contention for offensive rookie of the year.

Is Moss The Best Ever?

Check out this quote from New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady:

“He’s the best receiver, probably, ever to play the game. It’s easy to have great chemistry with Randy. You just have to throw it where he’s running because he’s usually open.”

Now a lot of people will dismiss it as just one teammate preening over another but I think Tom Brady is just being real here. I have long been a fan of Randy Moss's play on the field no matter what antics he engages in off of them. (note that he hasn't done near as much negative stuff off the field as many average fans would think)I remember watching him playing for Marshall in his senior year of college thinking "this guy is gonna be ridiculous!". And since he has been in the league he has. Playing against him and seeing what he can do live and in person only served to make me even more impressed with his play making ability.

I have friends and family of mine that bring up all kinds of so called knocks on Moss to try to dispel the notion that he is one of the greatest if not the greatest WR ever to play the game. One of the most ridiculous things I hear is that he won't block. Let me tell you something, fullbacks are hired to block. Wide Recievers are hired to move the chains and catch touchdowns. And very few, if any, that have played the game do it better than Randy Moss.

Its not just that the guy has lamborghini wheels, its not just that he can jump out of the gym, its not just that he has mitts for hands, its not just that he has supreme confidence in his abilities. Its the combination of all of those and then some.

This is a guy who thinks, no knows, that he is open even when facing double coverage. Of course here in Tampa we pretty much revolutionized the way a lot of teams play Cover 2. "Tampa 2" is now in the lexicon of playing defensive football and the premise is that we keep everything underneath and then rally to the ball to limit any yards after contact. But the thing of it was that Randy didn't care what it was we were trying to do. He was still bound and determine to beat the defense deep. And in has now become his famous tell, he would throw his hand up when he was going deep and felt he was open.

The sad part is more the half the time he was.

Now I realize that saying someone is the best player at his position has been and always will be a subjective thing. I don't imagine that I will convince those who believe that Jerry Rice is the greatest WR ever that Moss has over taken him. But I am just saying that honestly in my opinion I think if he hasn't already, he will over the rest of his career, barring injury.

I said to some friends of mine (though I can't prove it other than to have them attest to it) on draft day a few years back when Moss was traded from Oakland to the Patriots that he would break every record known to man. Remember that at that time his stock was way down and people were questioning if he was even a good receiver anymore let alone a great one. But I knew that once he got back into a stable situation and with an above average quarterback in Tom Brady, that he would thrive. And boy did he. Now I have made this prediction privately but I will say it publicly here too, I think Moss has a chance to break his single season TD record this year. After being in the system for 3 years and having Brady back at the helm, along with having an experinced and speedy threat opposite him with Joey Galloway, I think the opportunities will be there for him. I won't guarantee it, Im just saying don't be surprised if he tops 20 TDs again this year.

By the way, I really think its a two man race for G.O.A.T. I really don't see anyone else on Rice and Moss's level. And YES that includes and maybe especially T.O. whom I will speak on later.

Now for your viewing pleasure.