peripateticblogger.com

Football Thoughts – Week Four

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on October 7, 2020

College Football: My beloved Oklahoma Sooners lost to Iowa State in Ames, the first time OU has lost there since 1960. This is another game that OU was favored to win, but in which it failed spectacularly. The defense remained horrible and the quarterback remained a talented freshman. I think it is time we begin to accept that OU is just not as good this year as it has been recently.

My worry is that OU’s defensive woes are becoming not only bad, but notoriously so. When you are notorious for being bad, it becomes more and more difficult to recruit the players who can pull you out of it.

Texas lost also, to TCU, and looked as bad as the Sooners doing it. This was a game UT was supposed to win, but didn’t, which means that both teams will come into the Red River Shootout this weekend with a losing record, and losses the previous week, which very rarely happens, and hasn’t for years.

OU is favored by two points, but I can’t imagine why. The over/under is 72.5 points, an acknowledgement that neither team’s defense can stop anybody.

The NFL: The Dallas Cowboys’ pattern of disappointing, but no longer unexpected, losses in its now predictable way continued Sunday, with Dallas falling far behind, Prescott putting up outrageous numbers and bringing them back, all to fall short at the end. In fact, Cleveland Browns, over whom Dallas was favored by five points, wiped up the floor with them. (Cleveland won by 11 points, which means Dallas was 13 points worse than the spread predicted.)

In a bit of a surprise, the Philadelphia Eagles won their game over the 49ers, and with their dismal record of 1-2-1, took over the lead in the NFC East. This division is so lousy, Dallas still has a good chance to win it and lose embarrassingly in their first playoff game.

The week kicked off with the Thursday night game between the Broncos and the Jets. I almost didn’t watch because neither team had won a game and I thought it would be bad. But the teams were evenly matched, and each was desperate for a win, so they both played hard and made a good game out of it. Broncos won 37-28.

Green Bay toyed with the Atlanta Falcons (it was 27-6 at the end of three quarters), who have yet to win a game. Aaron Rodgers is playing extremely well.

The New England Patriots, without Cam Newton, lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-10. The Chiefs looked mortal in this game, but I suspect it was hard to get up for the game when the opposing quarterback was out.

In the Belichick v Brady feud, this week definitely goes to Brady. His Buccaneers won their game and Brady threw five touchdown passes, while the Patriots, while putting up a good fight, lost to KC without Cam Newton (see above). The 49ers lost too, though without Garoppolo, so he was a non-factor.

In the comparison and contrast between OU’s two Heisman Trophy winning, #1 NFL draft choices, Baker Mayfield had by far the better day. As mentioned, Mayfield and the Browns beat the Dallas Cowboys, while Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Carolina Panthers by 10 points, a team I expected them to beat. Their defense rivaled the Cowboys in ineptitude. (The Cardinals play the Cowboys October 19, in Dallas. I’m not sure who to pull for.)

Football Thoughts – Week 3

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 30, 2020

College Football: My beloved Oklahoma Sooners hosted the Kansas State Wildcats this weekend, over whom they were a 27.5-point favorite. This was before KSU announced just before the game that they would be missing five more players due to Covid-19 concerns.

First, the good news. Just kidding. There was no good news. OU lost 38-35 and stank on ice in all aspects of the game. Starting with the worst first, the defense suffered a collapse so complete it made me long for the terrible defenses we had just two years ago. KSU’s best offense was OU’s busted assignments on defense. OU was outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter and gave up 334 yards passing.

I am sick and tired of our string of four years when we have lost a game to a woefully inferior opponent, sending our playoff prospects into turmoil. And I’m sick and tired to terrible defenses. Coach Riley don’t dither like you did over Mike Stoops. Give rid of this DC now and find a better one.

The special teams’ contribution to this debacle by allowing a punt to be blocked.

On offense the Sooners did score 35 points but had many poor series and way too many penalties. Spencer Rattler is the goods. He is perhaps an even more accurate passer than our previous three quarterbacks – Mayfield, Murray and Hurts – which is really saying something. He had 387 yards passing, but he is a freshman and played like it this week, with three interceptions.

Texas scored a whopping 63 points, which is impressive. But Texas Tech hung 56 on them and took UT to overtime. Not so impressive. Oklahoma State beat West Virginia 27-13, putting an end to the WV myth, and Iowa State beat TCU 37-34. OU has nothing to fear from any of these teams, but then again, they should have had nothing to fear from KSU. Disgusting.

Mississippi State beat defending national champion LSU by 10 points. The championship is open to OU, but we just keep screwing up against mediocre teams.

NFL: The new look Dallas Cowboys continued mimicking the old look Cowboys and their 8-8 seasons, falling behind, rallying late but falling short, with underperforming defense (they have averaged giving up of more than 32 points per game, a franchise worst in the first three games of a season) and unimaginative coaching. Dak Prescott had 450 yards passing, but also two interceptions and a fumble. Too much coughing up. (I don’t count Prescott’s last interception; it was a Hail Mary pass into the endzone at the last moments of the game, a long shot, not unlike the onside kick they recovered last week.)

I never expected Dallas to beat the Seahawks in Seattle. They are 1-2 now, just where I predicted them to be after the first three games. But I still think it is likely that Dallas will win the NFC East, because all the other teams in the division seem to be even worse. Washington is 1-2, just like the Cowboys, but less impressive; Philadelphia is 0-2-1, having been tied by Cincinnati, the worst team in the league; and New York has yet to win a game.

The important news is that it is clear now, after Jerry Jones’ post-game remarks, that the Cowboys just don’t think that Dak is their guy nor worth the money he is asking. Jerry burned that bridge. Okay. It’s Jerry’s money, his choice. That being the case, they must let Dak go and find a better alternative (good luck with that).

But don’t feel sorry for Dak. He’s making about $31 million dollars now, and if they were to franchise him next season, he would be making about $37 million.

But they won’t be able to keep him next season now that Jerry has burned the bridge, and if they do keep him. Prescott will have little incentive to play well. He’ll just be waiting for the end of the season to sign with someone else.

The Cowboys will have to cut Dak loose, and when they do, there will be many teams lined up to pay him what he wants. In fact, I can think of only five or six teams who wouldn’t need him. Just don’t trade him to an NFC East team. They all stink now, but with Prescott, they will wipe up the floor with our underachieving lot.

The game I thought would be the best of the weekend turned out not to be much of a game at all. Kansas City dominated the Baltimore Ravens, who might be the second-best team in the NFL but still struggled just to stay within two touchdowns of KC.

The game between Green Bay and New Orleans, turned out to be the best one, but though fun to watch, it was apparent that Green Bay is better than the Saints, and Aaron Rodgers is playing better than Drew Brees today, or just about any quarterback for that matter.

The Cleveland Browns won their game with Baker Mayfield over the woeful Washington Foreskins 34-20, while Kyler Murray fell to earth and the Cardinals lost to the lowly Detroit Lions 26-23. I’m sure this is a game Phoenix expected to win, but they just didn’t play well enough.

In the Brady Belichick feud, Tom Brady and Cam Newton both won for Tampa Bay and New England respectively, so I call this week another draw. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t involved in the calculation this week because he did not play, which as I think about it, may be a point against Belichick, but I’m still calling it a push. (San Francisco still beat the New York Giants handily, which says more about how bad the New York Giants are than anything about the 49ers.)

Football Thoughts – Week 2

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 24, 2020

College Football: My beloved Oklahoma Sooners were idle this week but retained their #3 ranking. They are in good shape unless they manage to lose to one of the lesser schools in the Big 12, and they have managed to do for the last two years, complicating their chances in the playoffs. If they hang on to the #3 spot, they can avoid playing the #1 team in the semifinals. This all assumes the college game will finish the season, of course. I’m still taking the under.

Oklahoma State won its game against Tulsa but looked ragged doing it and were lucky to win. We have little to fear from these guys. Actually, I stopped worrying about the Oklahoma Aggies years ago. They couldn’t beat us with the best teams they ever had. They’re not going to beat us with this one.

NFL: The Dallas Cowboys added another pattern in Week 2 that has plagued them recently, in addition to the ones they already exhibited in their opener. This pattern is to fall hopelessly behind early, claw back into the game desperately in the last quarter, only to lose out at the end. This week, they lost three fumbles in the first quarter, fell behind 20-0, clawed their way back, and in a twist, actually won this game at the end, with plays so improbable, they never should have won.

Dallas coaching and play calling were as bad as they were in the opener. Nothing has improved.

I picked Dallas to be 1 and 2 after the first three games, and I remain confident in that prediction. Dallas is not going to beat the Seahawks and Russell Wilson in Seattle. The rest of the NFC East is so pathetic, however, that after these first three games, I think they may have a relatively easy run to the division title, unless McCarthy coaches them out of too many games. The new look Cowboys stink on ice.

The Cowboy mystery this season is how much the price of retaining the services of Dak Prescott will increase before Jerry Jones throws in the towel and gives him his money. Prescott is one of the few Cowboys pulling his weight. The price tag goes up every week, Jerry.

The best game of the week by far was the terrific one between Seattle and New England Sunday night. The Seahawks won, but the Patriots took them to the wire. Both teams played lights out. It was a fun game to watch.

Kansas City decided to mail it in this weekend and almost got beat. The chargers took them to overtime and gave them a good scare. Green Bay is still rolling. Baker Mayfield led Cleveland to a win. His team still sucks, but he is getting his swagger back.

The Cardinals won and looked good doing it. Kyler Murray had an outstanding game. In the comparison and contrast between Murray and Mayfield, two Heisman winning first round picks from OU, Murry is ahead at this point, but he also has a better team and organization than Mayfield and Cleveland. (I never thought I would write that the Cardinals have a better organization than anybody.)

In the dual between Brady and Belichick, I score it a draw in Round 2. Brady won his first game with Tampa, and New England lost that great game with Seattle. However, Cam Newton played extremely well.

The tie breaker again was San Francisco’s quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Belichick’s pick to replace Brady. Garoppolo wasn’t spectacular in the 49ers win, but he was steady, so that nod goes to Belichick. Not sure how many 49ers games are going to be like this going forward, though, because the team suffered some serious injuries to important players.

The Monday night game between the now Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints was worth the wait. It was the Raiders’ first home game in their new stadium, which is a beauty. I did not know until I turned on the game that Monday was the 50th Anniversary of Monday Night Football, so there was a lot of nostalgia about the Raiders and MNF as well as a good game.

Poetically, on this opening night of Las Vegas football, the Raiders outplayed the Saints and won the game. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr played very well. It must be said that the Saints’ sure to be Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees looked mortal after all his years of superhuman play. Perhaps this will be his last year.

Football Kickoff – 20-21

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 10, 2020

The football season begins this week. Colleges had a few games last weekend and the NFL begins tonight with a game between Kansas City and Houston.  I love football. I plan all my activities in the fall around the games I want to watch and the sports talk shows’ discussions and them before and after.

Though football kicks off, I’m taking the under that no conference or league will finish their season, due to Covid-19. This is sad for me and everyone else involved, particularly the college athletes. But the contemplation forces me to admit this to myself: health and education are more important even than football. Like everything else these days, not everyone agrees.

Thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 27, 2020

Three differences characterized this year’s NFL draft. First, of course, was the format. Instead of the Las Vegas extravaganza, the NFL followed the isolation and social distancing protocols required due to Covid-19, and everything was done virtually. Overall, I thought the NFL handled it well. In the later rounds, when the time between picks shortened, ABC, the network I watched, had trouble keeping up with the picks. They tried to cram in too much feature material at that pace.

Second, the talent this year is as deep as I can remember. There were at least 15 players who were legitimate top 10 ones, and the second round looked a lot like the first. There were several excellent quarterbacks, and the number of talented wide receivers was astounding, reflecting, I think, the evolving game at the college level. (Spoiler alert: OU got the best one.)

Finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off looking human and likeable. At times, he was very casual, almost slouchy. I think his stock went up with the public.

How ‘bout them Cowboys? It was a little embarrassing to see the owner and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys dancing on national television – neither was particularly good at it. But you cannot blame them, because University of Oklahoma wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb had just fallen into their lap at #17 in the draft. Since Lamb was rated the sixth best player in the entire draft by the Cowboys, you can understand why the ‘Boys were so excited. They never dreamed that Lamb would be there. They jumped on him like a duck on a June Bug.

This unexpected event upset the Cowboys’ initial plans. It was thought Dallas would take an edge rusher with their first pick and defensive backs thereafter, but after taking Lamb and dancing, they got back on schedule and took two very promising DBs with subsequent picks, and then began filling back up needs at edge and center with excellent picks, I think. Each player taken was ranked higher than when Dallas was able to take them.

I would have taken Lamb under any circumstances, but there is an underlying reason Dallas was safe taking the risk of changing their plan to take an edge rusher first, as I see it. Dallas has signed two suspended edge rushers – Randy Gregory and Alton Smith – who are hoping to be reinstated before next season, whenever that it. I think Gregory at least should win his case, because he was apparently suspended for using (a lot of) pot, and pot is not even a banned substance in the NFL player agreement anymore. I think Goodell will relent on Gregory. I do not know enough about Smith to comment.

Along the way, The Cowboys took DL Neville Gallimore, also from Oklahoma, who could end up being a real steal. Gallimore’s sophomore and junior seasons were nothing to write home about, but that was when OU had a terrible defensive coaching staff that produced one of the worst defensive teams in OU and NCAA history. After a new defensive coaching staff was brought in, Gallimore’s play skyrocketed his senior year. I think he could really blossom under professional coaching.

None of the other NFC East teams had distinguished drafts and Philadelphia’s was poor. Washington got a great player in Chase Young, but they lost one when they were forced to trade Lane Johnson, another OU product and perennial All-Pro player to San Francisco, because Lane flat out refused to play another down for the Redskins.

Bottom line: The Cowboys nailed this draft, and I think they should be a lock on the NFC East this season, assuming there is one.

The most intriguing pick in the draft also involved a Sooner – quarterback Jalen Hurts to the Philadelphia Eagles – who only three years ago selected Carson Wentz and paid him a ton of money to go out on the field and get injured frequently.

The most charitable way to look at this pick is that Philadelphia wanted a hedge against their huge investment in Wentz, given his history of injuries. My take is that it goes deeper than that. I think the Eagles are, deep down, no longer completely sold on Wentz.

The worst draft was that of the Green Bay Packers. They not only did not help themselves much, but in the process seriously disappointed their certain Hall of Fame bound franchise quarterback – Aaron Rodgers.

Last year, the Packers seemed to be one piece away from getting to the championship game. Instead of getting that piece in the first round, they drafted Rodgers’ future replacement instead. Rodgers wants to win now. He cannot have been pleased.

I thought the Baltimore Ravens had a very good draft as well.

It seemed that every eligible player on the four playoff teams was drafted high. It made me wonder why, with so much talent taken in the draft, why Ohio State hasn’t done better in the college championship hunt than they have the last few years.

Lots of good players in the draft. I hope they get to play this fall, for their sake and mine.

Playoff Football Thoughts

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 14, 2020

Typically, this weekend is my favorite for NFL football. Four games among the eight best teams, win or go home incentive. I was surprised, therefore, to see so much poor football this weekend. An exceptional number of penalties, myriad inexplicable dropped passes, many muffed punts and kick-offs and head scratching coaching decisions. (The referees didn’t particularly distinguish themselves, either.)

After the fourth game of the season, I picked the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens to make the Super Bowl and the Ravens to win it. This weekend, I considered Saturday’s games the only meaningful ones, and Sunday’s games superfluous (They probably still are). So much for my predictions. The 49ers did their part, dispatching the Minnesota Vikings handily, but the Ravens, who seemed to me to be the best NFL team this year, did a complete collapse.

Lacking imagination, I suppose, I could not conceive that the Ravens team could play as badly as they did in their game. They stunk on ice. The Tennessee Titans wiped up the floor with them.

Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh will be savagely second guessed, and possibly fired, for resting his starters in week 17th, with the result they hadn’t played in three weeks and were rusty as a tin can in the city landfill. Harbaugh looked stunned and clueless on the sideline.

The theory of resting players that long is controversial. Sometimes, coaches get away with it; sometimes, like Saturday, it bites.  San Francisco used its one bye week to rest and heal. The Ravens rested two weeks and rusted.

I can understand why coaches might want to do it, but I wouldn’t. The risk of getting stale is greater than the risk of a major injury. I thought the Ravens were just too good for this to happen to them, but I was wrong.

Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will probably be league MVP this year, stunk up the place this day: interceptions, a fumble, two fourth and one stuffs, and by the end of the game he had lost his composure. His receivers (except for the two from OU – Andrews and Brown) were less than no help. They dropped the ball like it had herpes.

I still think Jackson is, and will be, the same guy he was three weeks ago, but he clearly needs more seasoning. He lost his cool in the big game. Jackson made great progress this year. I assume he will make good use of his painful off-season.

For a while, the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans looked like it was going to be a repeat of the Ravens v Titans game. For the first quarter, the Chiefs couldn’t hit the floor with their hat. Dropped passes and other misfeasance put them behind 24-0. But once they awoke and got going, they dominated and won the game 51-31.

The Chiefs got some help from the Titans’ coach who had a chance to put a nail in the Chiefs’ coffin, potentially, but blew it with two calls that were, how do I say this diplomatically, intellectually inconsistent, by which I mean stupid.  (How do some of these coaches get their jobs, and why do teams fill coaching positions with retreads and deputies when Urban Meyer is sitting at home?)

Once the NFL season has begun, two things are the best predictors of success:  quarterbacks and injuries. Great quarterbacks are precious and rare. Injuries are an X factor that is unpredictable but often decisive.

This year, there were a lot of injuries, and two teams were especially hard hit: the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks. Remarkably, both got to the playoffs, Seattle with a truly great quarterback and Philadelphia, due to the utter ineptitude of my Dallas Cowboys.

The second game Sunday between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers turned out to be a terrific game, when it could have been a blowout. Green Bay was healthy and has a great quarterback – Aaron Rodgers. Seattle has Russell Wilson – but also has so many injuries it could hardly field a team.

Green Bay took a big lead, but Seattle came back in the second half and made a game of it but lost 28-23. Wilson carried his team by the scruff of the neck as far as he could, but it was not enough to beat the Packers with so many injuries.

Football Thoughts on the Wildcard Weekend

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 6, 2020

TIn the first game Saturday between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans, the fourth quarter and overtime were as exciting as any football I have seen in a while. This is not exactly a compliment. What made it so exciting was the bad coaching, the bad quarterback play, the senseless penalties and general ineptitude. At the beginning of overtime, the ref reminded the captains that the game must be won, but the play made one wonder.

Desean Watson rallied the Texans and pulled the game out for Houston, but I doubt they will go much further, now or in the future, until they get a new coach. Their current one made mistakes a Texas high school coach wouldn’t.

Buffalo would seem to have the brighter future long term, but their quarterback, Josh Allen, the least of the good quarterbacks in his draft class, in my view, made some disastrous mistakes. Unlike Watson, who walked on water when it was required, Allen passed water instead.

The Tennessee Titans unseated the reigning Superbowl Champion New England Patriots and pundits are declaring it the end of a dynasty, due to Tom Brady’s decline.

The dynasty thing may be true, at least for a while, but I have watched the Patriots this year, and although he is admittedly having an off year, Brady is not the problem. He just doesn’t have a team around him anymore. He has no receivers to speak off. His offensive line can’t hold the pass rush off Brady long enough for him to make a throw, and the Titans ran through New England’s defensive line like a hot knife through butter.

Perhaps this decline is the inevitable result of being so good for so long that the Patriots have been at the tail end of the draft line for many years. Perhaps it will take a few higher draft picks to get them back on top. But I have confidence in this organization’s being able to do it.

Here’s a scenario regarding Brady’s possible future. Remember, you read it here first. What if Dallas were to hire New England’s offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniel to be its new head coach (not a bad option in any case)? McDaniel and Brady are tight. So, what if Brady left New England to join McDaniel?

Brady, not needing any more money (he’s already rich and his wife is richer), has historically been very cooperative with the Patriots in reworking his contract to help with the salary cap, so he might be with Dallas. This would allow Dallas to jettison Dak Prescott, who is beginning to look like a middle of the pack quarterback, and avoid a salary cap problem with him and other Cowboy star players whose contract negotiations are coming up.

Brady would thrive, I believe, with McDaniel coaching Dallas’ talent, and hold the fort for a few years until the Cowboys find another quarterback. Just a thought.

Sudden thought: After watching how the Cowboys have handled the “Jason Garrett affair,” I’m beginning to think that Jerry Jones is no longer the NFL’s best owner, but a senile old man.

The first game on Sunday featured the most evenly matched teams in the wildcard round: the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. I was surprised that the Vikings won it. I thought that the Saints were a better team, but the Vikings outplayed them this day.

That said, the Vikings won it on a play on which most experts said offensive pass interference should have been called on the Vikings’ receiver. I have no opinion to offer on this, because I think the entire officiating protocol sucks and needs a complete overhaul. It’s threatening the game. But the Saints must be wondering why referees aren’t calling penalties on game deciding fouls against them. This is arguably the third year in the row this has happened to the Saints, though last year’s no-call was by far the most inexcusable.

Sunday’s second game – Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles – involved two teams that have had a devastating number of injuries this season. It was a contest between the walking wounded and the halt and lame. Seattle was always the better team and they won the game, but someone needs to explain to me why the 11-5 Seahawks had to play on the road against the 9-7 Eagles. I know. I know. It’s because the Eagles won their weak ass division and Seattle didn’t win their very strong one, but this defies common sense.

Skip and Shannon have been arguing for several seasons now which is the better quarterback from their draft – Wentz for Philadelphia or Prescott for Dallas. To me, it doesn’t really matter because Wentz just can’t stay healthy. He was knocked out of this game, as he regularly is during the playoffs, if not before.

Football Thoughts the Week of November 25

Posted in Sports - football, mostly, Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on December 6, 2019


The Dallas Cowboys got embarrassed at home by the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving Day, over whom they were a 6 ½ point favorite. The Bills wiped up the floor with them. I am sick to death of the Cowboys. I’m sick of their underperforming players, sick of their incompetent coaching staff and sick of their owner/general manager/media hog. I am also sick of hearing about Dallas’ vaunted offensive line. I see other teams’ lines keeping our defenders off their quarterback, but I see Dak Prescott running for his life consistently.  And when Prescott gets pressured, he too frequently coughs up the ball or throws a pick.

The Cowboys are still favored statistically to win the NFL East Division. (As Mark Twain said, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.) I don’t see how anybody who has watched this team play could think so. The Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas’ rival for the Division title, has a much easier schedule than the Cowboys, and I don’t think the Cowboys are finished losing yet. It could all be over before Dallas plays the Iggles in Philadelphia in a few weeks.

The only silver lining in this sorry season is that I think Jerry Jones must fire Jason Garrett now. It is no longer tenable to keep any of these sorry coaches and still say you are interested in winning another Super Bowl. Jones is fond of saying he owns and team and gets to make the decisions, but he still must show his face in town and presently he does that at the risk of being made fun of in public. But what good coach would work for Jones?

Shame on this whole damn organization.

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners handled the Oklahoma State Aggies with relative ease, as I expected. As I have opined previously, I don’t worry about OSU anymore. In recent years, they have had the best teams they have ever had, or ever will have, and we have been able to beat them. They’re not going to beat us with what they are producing now.

That said, OU won the game in their typical, less than ideal fashion: superb offense, though with less than perfect play calling, and mediocre defense. In fairness to the Grinch, the defense is playing with more spirit and aggression, but they still can’t tackle worth a damn. I stopped counting the times a Sooner was in position to make the play and whiffed on the tackle.

Thinking about this weekend, I’m not particularly worried about Baylor either. We beat them without Cee Dee Lamb during the regular season, in a game when Jalen Hurts had the worst half of his football career. Neither of these is going to be the case in the Championship game. I feel bullish.

Which brings us to the prospects for making the playoffs, which I still think is a long shot, but no longer out of the question. Things continue to fall into place, but will it be enough? Assuming everything else follows the chalk (upsets are not out of the question for some higher ranked teams, but I’m not counting on it), if Oregon upsets Utah, I think we’re in. If Utah beats Oregon, it will be a beauty contest between them and Oklahoma. I don’t know how that may work out. OU will have played and beaten more, higher ranked teams than Utah has faced, but maybe the committee will want a new face in the playoff mix. OU is still the more interesting option, though.

Football Thoughts the Week of October 28

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on November 6, 2019

I watched the Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers game. The 49ers are excellent this season, but surprisingly, Arizona gave them a good game, before losing 23-20. I say surprisingly, because the Cardinals are a truly terrible team, but they played hard and sometimes well, in this game.

Though there is controversy about it, which there shouldn’t be, the Cardinals have their quarterback in Kyler Murray, if they can keep him alive. But he won’t be for long if they don’t get a line to protect him. Murray had defenders in his face on almost every play almost before he could take the snap. The Cardinal offensive line is, how do I say this delicately? Porous? Nonexistent? Stinks on ice? That’s it.

The Cardinals play with no discipline whatsoever, which is a coaching problem. I had the sound turned down, so I can’t be positively sure of this, but I think they had two series where every play resulted in a penalty – holding or false start. It was like that movie Groundhog’s Day. Run a play, get a penalty, move back, start over.

On this night, the head coach coached the Cardinals out of a possible win with poor calls, including calling time out just as his defense stopped a 4th and goal attempt. This gave the 49ers another chance, which they cashed in for a touchdown. The Cardinals, sorry as they are, deserve better. Kingsbury is not an NFL caliber coach. Hell, he wasn’t even a good college level coach, and here he is coaching the Cardinals, who, until they get a new coach and an offensive line, among other things, isn’t going to be NFL caliber either.

Apropos of nothing, the worst NFL game I ever saw was between the Cardinals and the 49ers several years ago. It was unimaginably bad play by both teams.

The Cleveland Browns in their loss to the Denver Broncos, in a game they might have won, were almost a mirror image of the Cardinals, except that Baker Mayfield isn’t playing as well as Murray right now. He’s being even more poorly coached. The head coach and offensive coordinator for Cleveland are a worse combination than the Cardinals’ comparable duo. They both should go at the end of the season, but now would be better, before they ruin their quarterback. Kitchens was a disastrous decision, which speaks to the caliber of the of the entire organization. The offensive line could be replaced with cardboard cutouts and do as well. Mayfield has two outstanding receivers. He should pass to one of the other of them on every passing play. Forget the other receivers. Put the ball in the hands of your best players. Cleveland has good offensive players, but their head coach hasn’t a clue how to use them.

I am sick to death of my Dallas Cowboys. It’s hard to pull for such a bunch of underachievers. They have loads of talent, but sometimes play like bums. They let the woeful New York Giants hang around until the last quarter before pulling away, which is not only dangerous, but inexcusable for a team as good as Dallas, on paper. And their loss to the New York Jets earlier was even worse. How could this team play like that and somebody not get fired? Bill Belichick would have fired some of them at halftime.

I am beginning to think that those who consider Dak Prescott a middle of the pack NFL quarterback may be right, though I have rated him in the top third or even higher in the past. He had a lot of errant throws in the Giants game, and his three most successful passes in terms of yards and points were all thrown low and had to be scooped up near the ground by the receivers. (Dak did have one perfectly place ball to Amari Cooper that which went for a touchdown, which is what is likely to happen when you hit a good receiver in stride.)

This is all to do with coaching. The Cowboys don’t have any. And it goes deeper than just the head coach, though it starts there. Any competent head coach would clean out the cupboard. They’re all contaminated from working in that unprofessional environment. I wouldn’t keep a single one of them.

The deterioration of refereeing is even worse than I have been saying previously. Judging by the Cowboys game, the refs can’t even tell the difference between false starts and encroachment anymore. Worse, against Dallas, #71 started three fights and the refs flagged a Cowboy after each one.

One more rant and then I’m done. I think there should be a third passing category in addition to complete or incomplete, which is Drops, as when a quarterback gets the ball to a catchable place and the receiver doesn’t come up with it. I’m sure coaches consider drops when they evaluate receivers. We should too.

Football thoughts 101 – #1

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on October 31, 2019

The refereeing of NFL games has been terrible this season (as it has been for a while), so bad it threatens the integrity of the game and the possible loss of fan support. I know it, you know it, every football fan knows it.

There are just too many penalties, and it takes too long to adjudicate them. If you have so many penalties, it is a strong indication that there are too many rules, or the rules are too complicated.  Stoppages for review are far too numerous and can run longer than a full-length movie. They destroy the flow of the game.

Fortunately for the NFL, I know why this is happening and how to fix it, both of which I will explain below.

The primary responsibility lies with the Competition Committee, for creating too many rules that require judgement and then putting their interpretation into the hands of referees whose judgement has been frayed by instant replay, because the refs know they don’t have to be right because they are being monitored, and they don’t care as much as they used to, because they resent being monitored. The monitors don’t like it much either, which is one reason why they rarely overturn calls. The other is that the refs usually get it right.

Here are some solutions:

First, eliminate instant replay. Refs get most calls right anyway. Add up the refs’ calls that are unchallenged, those challenges that are confirmed or let “stand,” and you will see that replays take up an enormous amount of time for a very tiny number of plays. Besides, if refs know there is no instant replay official watching over their shoulder, they will be even more diligent in their calls.

I know instant replay reviews are popular with some, and I’m going to be called a Luddite for suggesting they be dropped, but the technology needn’t be applied just because it exists. These replays slow the game and are unnecessary. Some sports, like baseball, may be a game of inches, but football is a game of yards. Obsessing too much over an inch is a waste of time.

That said, and to show I’m not completely dismissive of instant replay technology, there should be one official watching who has the authority to stop the game for an egregiously bad call. To qualify as egregious, a call would have to be like the one that screwed the Saints out of the Super Bowl last year. That one should have been overturned if the Commissioner had to call down to the field himself. The fact that it wasn’t shows just how bad the current protocol is.

Second, the NFL is obsessed with protecting players from concussion. (Actually, that’s BS. With the exception of some quarterbacks, the NFL doesn’t give a damn about players’ concussions; it cares about its image, or it would have addressed this issue long ago.) So, every time there is a hit to the head, the game is stopped, and time comes to a numbing halt while refs consider the factual, philosophical, political and religious implications of the penalty. And the worst of it is that despite all this, the rule is irregularly applied, creating the impression, and the fact of injustice.

I care about concussions, but also about keeping the game flowing. Therefore, the NFL should change the game to be played below the neck. No interpretation; above the neck or below. Any hit above the neck is a penalty, and the offending player is ejected. No reviews, no wasted time.

Third, eliminate kick-off and punt returns. By this I mean, any kick-off that is not into the end zone must be fair caught and the ball placed on the 25-yard line or where it is caught, whichever is closer to midfield. Punts must be fair caught if not kicked or allowed to roll into the end zone and placed where they are caught, or on the 25-yard line if they go into the end zone.

I know, I know. This will eliminate some exciting run backs, but let’s face it, there is a block in the back penalty on almost every kick. It’s more likely the ball will be moved back nearer your own goal line than returned for a touchdown, and these ubiquitous penalties hinder the game. Statistically, teams are a lot better off if they just take the fair catch, and the game will be speeded up. The NFL has been trying to discourage runbacks with middling rule changes. Let’s go all the way.

Frankly, I’m surprised coaches haven’t obviated this problem themselves. If I were a coach, I would tell every player on every punt to stand still and let the receiver fair catch the ball. And, I would tell receivers never to run a ball out of the end zone, and for every blocker not to do so. The odds favor it.

Next game you watch, use a stopwatch and estimate how much time would be saved if these rules were enacted. You will be amazed.