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The NFL Is Coming

September 1, 2017 at 2:52 pm
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The opening of the NFL season is only a few days away, and the New York Jets made headlines once again today by trading away Sheldon Richardson, one of the monsters on their defensive line, the strongest unit on the team. Gang Green’s campaign to get rid of all of their good players continues, full speed ahead.

I know the Jets claim that they are not trying to lose all their games in order to get the first pick in next spring’s draft and snag a franchise qb… but it sure as hell smells that way.

I have the feeling that I am going to be starting a lot of blog posts with “Life is miserable and full of pain” this fall, at least where the Jets are concerned.

All I can hope is that the Giants come through for me. If Eli and the offense and rise to the level of the D, Big Blue should kick some ass.

(I am going to leave comments open for this one, for those who want to talk football. ANY off topic posts will be deleted. Football only, please).

Current Mood: gloomy gloomy

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No Draft For Me

April 27, 2017 at 12:53 pm
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I am looking forward to having a great time this weekend at Stokercon… but I am a little bummed that it’s happening on the same weekend as the NFL Draft, which I usually watch gavel to gavel.

I guess the members of the HWA are not into NFL football. Feh. How can they understand the true nature of horror unless they’re fans of the New York Jets?

I guess I will need to get by this year without my annual dose of Chris Berman and Mel Kiper. I do plan to check in from time to time. Surely the Queen Mary has ESPN.

If wishes were fishes, both of my teams would land running backs. I want the Jets to draft Leonard Fournette with the sixth overall pick, and the Giants to take Christian McCaffery. I loves me a good running game. Smashmouth football rules!

Many of the mocks are projecting that both teams will get tight ends instead: OJ Howard to Gang Green, David Njoku to Big Blue. That would be good as well. A great TE can make a huge difference.

What the G-Men need most of all, of course, is a huge road-grinder of an offensive lineman.

The Jets need everything.

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No, No, No

March 10, 2017 at 8:30 am
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Jay Cutler?

Please no.

Let it be a rumor. Let it be a lie.

Not Jay Cutler.

Say it ain’t so.

Coax Brett Favre out of retirement. Bring back Mark Sanchez. Bring back Chad Pennington. Sign Fitz for another year.

Just not Jay Cutler, nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

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Jets? Jets? Jets???

March 3, 2017 at 2:59 pm
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What the hell are the Jets doing?

Damned if I know. “Cleaning house,” some say. Maybe so. From where I sit, “Getting rid of all of my favorite players” would be more accurate.

Brandon Marshall. Darrell Revis. Nick Mangold. And there are rumors that Eric Decker may be next.

That’s their best two receivers and their best lineman. Yes, Nick was getting old, and he was injured last year. Yes, Darrell was not the shutdown corner he was. Yes, all of them were expensive, and old, or getting old.

Still… is there anyone on the roster to replace them? Gang Green created tons of salary cap room with these moves, but does that help anyone but Woody Johnson? Salary cap room is great if you use it to bring in blue chip free agents, but what free agent would want to come to the Jets now?

Maybe the idea is to lose ALL the games next year, to get the number one draft pick. I haven’t even paid much attention to the 2017 draft yet, the 2018 draft is completely off my radar. Is there some new John Elway/ Peyton Manning/ Andrew Luck calibre can’t-miss quarterback prospect that the Jets are looking toward a year and a half out?

I fear I am in for a lot of painful Sundays next fall.

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Salsa No More

February 14, 2017 at 6:58 pm
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The Giants released Victor Cruz today.

It was not unexpected. Cruz missed the last two seasons with injuries, and this season, when he finally came back, he had a subpar year. Only 35 catches, way down for him. He had a very high salary number for next year, too high for a third receiver, and by cutting him the Giants saved $7.5 million against the salary cap, money they can now use to improve elsewhere. And they really need to improve elsewhere — on the offensive line and at tight end, especially — if they hope to advance further in the playoffs than they did this season.

All the same, the release made me sad. Victor Cruz was my favorite player, and I was hoping he would retire as a Giant. I think Victor was hoping the same. He seemed not only to be a terrific player, but a terrific guy, an undrafted free agent who walked on and made it big.

If it had been up to me, I would have stayed the course and kept Cruz. Ask him to take a salary cut, sure. I think he would have done that. Next year, I would have moved him back to the slot, his best position. He was just not as effective last season playing outside the numbers. And while the rookie Sterling Shepard was a good slot receiver last season, Cruz in his prime was a GREAT slot receiver, one of the best in the league. If the Giants had kept Victor in the slot, and played Shepard outside, both of them might have had better years.

One mediocre year and two years on injured reserve can make us forget — especially since Odell Beckham Junior has been dazzling Giants fans with spectacular catches during those same three seasons — just how good Victor Cruz was before his injury. When he was good, he was very very good, as the saying goes. Here, take a look, remember:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgMh5_-hr64

We’ll miss the salsas…

Good luck, Victor. You earned it.

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Then There Were Two

January 23, 2017 at 11:22 am
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Another week, another round of NFL playoffs.

Last week in the divisional round, we got two great games and two blowouts. I was hoping that this week’s conference championships would give us more exciting contests, but no such luck. The Falcons ripped right through Green Bay and the Patriots obliterated the Steelers. Neither contest was even remotely competitive.

Not much to say about either game, really. Aaron Rodgers is amazing, yes, but he doesn’t play defense, and the Packer D could not even seem to slow down Matty Ice, let alone stop him. And the Patriots… yeah, yeah, Brady is good, especially when you give him weeks to sit in the pocket unmolested and don’t cover his receivers. I watched him complete pass after pass that seemed to be totally uncontested, with the receiver standing all alone and not a defender within yards.

Anyway, we have our SuperBowl: Patriots against Falcons.

Nothing much to say but GO FALCONS.

Meanwhile, I am thinking about next year’s draft…

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Playoffs, Round Two

January 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm
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So this past weekend was the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

And, yes, being a football fan I watched them all, even though my Giants were eliminated last week (and the Jets never got within shouting distance).

There was good news and bad news for the people of Houston. The bad news was, Evil Little Bill and his Patriots dismissed the Texans rather soundly. (Not unexpected, sad to say. Not when you have Osweiler going up against Brady). The good news was, the Cowboys lost, thereby eliminating any chance of a Cowboys/ Patriots Superbowl, so right-minded fans no longer need to root for a giant asteroid to strike Houston. Now we can simply root for whoever is playing New England.

With neither of my teams involved, I had a lot less invested in this weekend’s contests. The Saturday games were both pretty one-sided, so much so that I found myself multi-tasking and doing other stuff while watching. The Sunday games were better… especially the epic struggle between the Packers and the Cowboys. That one looked like a blowout too when the Pack went up 21-3, but somehow Dallas fought back, and tied the game at 28 and then again at 31. Looked like overtime, but they made the mistake of leaving thirty seconds for Aaron Rodgers. His sideline pass to set up the winning field goal was the thing of beauty, a throw and catch to rival Eli’s superbowl tosses to Tyree and Manningham. And afterwards, in the wake of the Cowboy defeat, America got to see Jerry Jones making his I-am-sucking-on-sour-lemons face, last seen in 2007 when it was the Giants who sent the Boys home.

The Kansas City/ Pittsburgh game also came down to the last second, yet somehow was not nearly as exciting. The Steelers won without scoring a touchdown. That’s not going to cut it next week against the Patriots and Evil Little Bill.

So… Pittsburgh at New England, Green Bay at Atlanta.

Should be fun.

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Greed Is Not Good

January 12, 2017 at 4:54 pm
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The news just broke that the San Diego Chargers will be relocating to Los Angeles next season.

San Diego has loyally supported the team since the old AFL days in the early 60s. Win or lose, the fans loved their Bolts.

LA has never supported any football team unless it was winning, and preferably winning big. Once LA had two teams, and that was great when they won; when they hit down years, as all teams do, the Raiders and Rams were both abandoned. That’s why they left town twenty years ago, both in the same year. Last year the Rams came back… but they lost, and before season’s end, they were playing before tens of thousands of empty seats.

I’d say the same fate awaits the Chargers, except I read that they will be playing in a small 30,000 seat venue for a couple years until the new Rams stadium (where they will be a tenant, like the Jets in old Giants Stadium) is complete. That’s smart, I suppose. Nothing else about the move is.

It’s all about greed. And despite what you may have heard Gordon Gekko say, greed is NOT good. (Too many people seem to lose sight of the fact that he was the VILLAIN of that film).

I am a fan of the Giants and Jets, both of whom have great loyal fan bases and seem likely to remain where they are for decades to come… but I know what it is to have your heart torn out when a greedy owner moves your team away. When I was a child, I was a Dodgers fan… the Brooklyn Dodgers, thank you very much, the Boys of Summer, one of baseball’s great iconic franchises, playing in one of baseball’s great iconic ballparks, Ebbets Field. The Dodgers were the heart and soul of Brooklyn; never has a city loved a team so much, or had so much of its identity bound up with them. The city that was Brooklyn died when the Dodgers departed; the gentrified borough that remains is just a bedroom community for Manhattan. (Okay, they still have fantastic pizza, gotta give ’em that).

The Dodger fans (and the fans of the baseball Giants, similarly bereft) eventually got the Mets, which helped some… especially in ’69 and ’86… but the pain is still there, down deep, when we think back on it. Ebbets Field was old and run-down and small, yeah, but it was wonderful in the same way that Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are wonderful. Those ballparks have become legendary and historic, cherished by the people of Boston and Chicago respectively, and I don’t think anyone would dare to tear them down now. The same thing would have happened to Ebbets Field if only it had lasted a few more years and managed to survive the fad for building hideous concrete multi-purpose stadiums that dominated the 60s. (And indeed that is exactly what has happened in the Wild Cards universe, an alternate world where Walter O’Malley contracted the wild card virus before he could move the team. He turned into a pile of slime, but it was days before anyone noticed the difference).

Maybe because of my early childhood trauma at losing the Dodgers, I have never liked the various relocations that have plagued both football and baseball over the decades. The ONLY cases where I think it is warranted are those where a city stops supporting its team or teams… as happened in LA with the Raiders and the Rams. But the rest? Bob Irsay slinking out of Baltimore in the dead of night with the Colts? Despicable. Al Davis abandoning Oakland, spending a decade in LA, then moving back? Offensive. Art Modell moving the Browns from Cleveland? Shame, shame.

Cleveland did get a new Browns team, so at least they got to keep the name and tradition (though the original Browns, now the Ravens, are a perennial contender who won a SuperBowl after the move, while the expansion Browns have pretty much sucked since they were reborn, so it was hardly a fair swap). The good fans of Baltimore did not even get that. The ‘Colts’ name and colors should have stayed when Irsay left. Let the Indianapolis team start fresh with a new name and uni, as the Ravens did. It would be splendid if the NFL would rule that Spanos can move his team, but the name ‘Chargers’ and the lightning bolt and the powder blues should all remain with San Diego, for however long it takes for them to get an expansion team. The relocated team can be the LA Earthquakes, since I think their tenure in Lalaland is going to be pretty shaky. If what I read is true, neither the city nor the Rams want them there.

Green Bay has the right idea. The Packers are owned by the people of Green Bay. Would that were true in more cities. If I were only a billionaire (not even close, sorry), I’d buy an NFL franchise and leave it to the city upon my death… except, alas, I am told that NFL rules no longer allow that. So there will never be another Green Bay, and the billionaire owners will continue to move their teams around the country in search of ever newer, bigger, glitzier stadiums paid for by the fans and taxpayers, stadiums that can generate hundreds of millions in profits instead of merely tens of millions.

Charger fans, I feel for you.

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Doom, Despair, Defeat

January 9, 2017 at 4:16 pm
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So far, the new year is off to a terrific start. Not.

Yesterday mostly sucked.

All the playoff games sucked, actually. The four wild card teams all lost, the four home teams all won, and every game ended in a rout. Most of them were over long before the fourth quarter rolled around. Of course, for me personally the worst of them was the last, when the Green Bay Packers routed my Giants. That one was actually a game for the first three quarters. The Giants defense came out loaded for bear, and stuffed the Packers and their bad man for most of the first half… but the Giants offense could not seem to take advantage, which (sadly) has been true most of the season. The running game, which had shown signs of life last week against the Skins, lay down and died again, and the passing game was erratic at best, with both Odell Beckham Junior and Sterling Shepard both dropping sure touchdown passes. OBJ dropped a number of other passes as well. Not his finest hour. In fact, it may well have been the worst game I have ever seen him play. Eli was pretty sharp for the most part, but when the receivers keep dropping balls delivered right into their hands, that does not count for much.

The result was that a quarter and a half of total Giant dominance yielded only two field goals and a paltry 6-0 lead. I knew that would not hold up (you cannot stop a qb as talented as Rodgers forever), and of course it didn’t. The Packers took the lead for good late in the second quarter with a solid drive that made it 7-6, and then tacked on another touchdown with an insane hail mary pass just as time was running out, to take a 14-6 lead into the half.

The Giants defense did have one more great stop left in them, turning back the Packers on a 3rd and 1 and then a 4th and 1 at midfield, then taking the ball and scoring their only TD of the game on a beautiful long pass from Eli to Tavaris King, who actually caught the ball and made it 14-13. That was the high water mark, however. After that, Rodgers could not be stopped. Big Blue’s D was plainly winded by then, and the offense gave them no help at all with a series of 3-and-outs and punts. Bad punts, too. For whatever reason, the Packer punter had a much better day, so much so that the Giants seemed to lose twenty yards of field position with every exchange. In the second half, Eli was repeatedly starting from inside his ten, Rodgers from midfield.

So: season over, Big Blue is done, the Packers go on. Here’s hoping they crush the Cowboys. And yes, it’s true, Aaron Rodgers is a baaaaaaaaaddddd man.

All in all, a pretty good season for the Giants. But I never really believed this was their year. The defense started slow but ended as one of the best in the league, but the offense never came alive. Next year, maybe, Big Blue can make another run, but first we need to (1) improve the offensive line, and (2) get ourselves a running game. A great young tight end would help as well. Will Tye is okay, but Mark Bavaro he’s not. He’s not even Jeremy Shockey.

All the teams I cared about having been eliminated, I am now rooting for Whoever Plays the Cowboys and Whoever Plays the Patriots. And if we wind up with a Cowboy/ Patriot SuperBowl, I will be rooting for A Giant Asteroid Strikes Houston.

Of course, the weekend was not all about football. Last night we also had the Golden Globes. Where Lena Headey lost, and GAME OF THRONES lost, and WESTWORLD and its two amazing actresses lost as well. Pfui. That was disappointing, but not unexpected. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association surprised me this year by nominating three genre shows — GOT, WESTWORLD, and STRANGER THINGS — for Best Drama, but in the end they reverted to form and passed over all of them in favor of the safe choice, the ‘prestige’ historical drama THE CROWN. (Which I did enjoy, mind you, even though I went away thinking that while it may have been good to be the king in the Middle Ages, it really sucked to be the queen in the 1950s). So: no Globes for us.

The highlight of the Globes — and the day — was Meryl Streep’s speech.

End of the Season

January 3, 2017 at 4:54 pm
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The NFL wrapped up its regular season over the weekend, with victories for both of my teams.

The Jets defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-10. Last year, when facing the Bills on the final weekend, Gang Green could have clinched a playoff spot with a win… so, of course, they choked and played the worst game of the reason. This year, when the game meant absolutely nothing, they romped. The Bills fired Rex Ryan after last week’s loss, so you couldn’t even pitch the contest as “Hot Seat Bowl,” with Buffalo playing under an interim coach.

The highlight of the game came after the Jets kicked a field goal and kicked off to Buffalo. The ball bounced into the endzone, while a Bills player stood over it looking at it curiously, as if to say, “What is that? Is that the ball? Was I supposed to catch it? I forget. Maybe I should pick it up?” While he was pondering, one of the Jets rushed past him and fell on the ball for a touchdown. Maybe it was good Rex was not on the sideline, his head might have exploded.

FWIW, I think Buffalo made a mistake in letting go of Rex. They did not even give him two years, and they are not likely to find anyone better. The Bills are a deeply dysfunctional franchise; they keep hiring new coaches, but never give them time to build a winner. No wonder they have been out of the playoffs longer than any other team in the NFL.

The Jets are not much better, however. The win left them with a record of 5-11 on the season, and the sixth overall draft slot. But they still have no quarterback. Christian Hackenberg, their second round draft pick last year, finally dressed for a game, but still did not play. Ryan Fitzpatrick started and finished and played… well, okay, but everyone seems certain that he will not be back next year. Neither will Geno. Which leaves Gang Green with the broken Bryce Petty and the totally untested Hackenberg and that draft pick. Do they use that on yet another young qb? So they try to address one of their many other needs? Do they pick up a quarterback in free agency or trade for one? If so, who? I hear talk of Romo, Cutler, and Kaepernick, which seems to me just a choice of poison. Arsenic, cyanide, or strychnine, what would you like?

Meanwhile, the Jets did keep their head coach… but fired a whole bunch of assistant coaches. So I don’t know if they really have much more continuity than the Bills, when you get down to it. Sigh. Sometimes it’s hard to be green…

So let’s go blue, and talk about the Giants. They won too, and much more impressively, defeating the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous People 19-10. (Would have been 13-10, except for a freak defensive touchdown on Washington’s last desperation play). The game was not really as close as the score, since Big Blue’s defense dominated throughout, pretty well shutting down one of the league’s highest scoring offenses. What made the win even more impressive was that the Giants were already locked into the #5 seed in the playoffs, win or lose, and had nothing to play for, while the Redskins had everything to play for. I was glad to see that Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning played to win regardless; I hate it when teams lie down on the last day of the season. (I am looking at you, Cowboys).

The Giants ended up with an 11-5 record on the season, and their first playoff appearance since they won the SuperBowl in 2011. Can they do it again? Odds are against them, but you never know. The G-Men do have a great defense, and it is often said that defense wins championships. We’ll see. The road starts at Green Bay. That should be a great game. In Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have the best QB in the game, but their potent offense will be facing the Giants’ tough defense. On the other side of the ball, however, a weak Green Bay defense with a porous secondary and no pass rush will be matched against a New York offense that has no running game, an offensive line that gives Eli no protection, and only one downfield threat in Odell Beckham. So it will be strength against strength, and weakness against weakness.

The Packers are favored, and rightly so. Mr. Discount Doublecheck is red hot. On the other hand, in the past Eli Manning has played his best ball in the playoffs, the O-line has gotten a little better since Justin Pugh returned, and even the running game showed some signs of life, at least when Perkins has the ball in place of Jennings. We shall see.

Go G-MEN!

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