Archive for April, 2007

Kravitz takes on the Pats

April 30, 2007

In a very wussy way, Kravitz has gone against the sports media to question the signing of Randy Moss. Not a very strong stand, but for him it is a start.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070430/COLUMNISTS01/704300356/

My stand is slightly stronger: I am going to issue something called the Gonzalez challenge. I challenge Randy Moss to double the production of the Colts’ third wide receiver, rookie Anthony Gonzalez. Moss is supposedly is going to be the Pats #1 reciever, and as some sites are now predicting a sure-fire Hall of Famer, so he should have no problem gaining twice the yards, catches, and scores of a rookie wide receiver who may not play much in his first season.

To give you a point of reference: Ben Utecht was the Colts third most productive passing option (non-RB) in 2006 and ended up with 37 catches for 377 yards and no scores. Doubling these numbers should be a breeze. If Randy passes this simple test I will concede the season to the Pats, as ESPN already has. Personally I’d still rather have Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, call me crazy.

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Final draft analysis

April 29, 2007

None of the grades are out yet for the draft, and I’m going to predict here and now that the Colts get a lot of Cs. This is because people handing out draft grades are idiots. I think most fans of the Horse can feel good about the team after this weekend. In summary, the Colts took:

1 Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio St.) WR and 2 Tony Ugoh (Arkansas) OT (we covered them earlier)
3 Daymeion Hughes (California) CB Apparently a play maker who might be a step slow, but is a perfect cover 2 corner
3 Quinn Pitcock (Ohio St.) DT Fast first step, perfect for a defense where the tackles don’t have gap control (like the Colts. The LBs have gap control, unless they are named Gilbert Gardner)
4 Brannon Condren (Troy St.) S Hard working over achiever
4 Clint Sessions (Pittsburgh) OLB Possible potential at SSLB
5 Roy Hall (Ohio St.) WR Big guy, 232 lbs. Projects as a possible TE or receiving H-back. He could be the replacement for Dom Rhodes
5 Michael Coe (Alabama St.) CB The Colts love to draft DBs (3 this draft) and here’s one more with good size and skills who lacks great speed. Sounds like a cover 2 corner.
7 Keyunta Dawson (Texas Tech) DE Great size and speed. Can play inside or out in a rotation.

Basically, the Colts first 2 picks were depth and future oriented, while adding value right now. I think most fans would have liked to see the Colts take a LB, but they don’t seem to realize that the Colts don’t value LBs. They just take whoever they find, make them a star, and let someone else pay them big money in 5 seasons.

All in all, we have no idea if this is a good draft or not. We at 18to88.com trust Bill Polian completely. Realistically, they need to hit on at least 2 of the other picks and it will be considered a strong draft. Not all these guys will make it in the league, but that’s normal. Don’t forget the Colts will also be adding undrafted free agents. This is NOT A SMALL THING. Gary Bracket and Dom Rhodes were both UDFA. I’m pretty sure Terrance (Little T) Wilkins was too originally.

All in all, we grade this draft an A, because why not? Plus, it could be worse, we could have traded for Randy Moss.

Patriots trade for Randy Moss

April 29, 2007

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft07/news/story?id=2853116

And the desperation continues for the three-time world champs. . .

The Patriots have traded their fourth round pick for 30 year-old, former superstar Randy Moss. Going into his tenth season Moss has averaged 50 catches over his last three seasons while struggling with injuries. How far has Moss fallen? A fourth round pick? That says it all. Unfortunately, Moss’s contract is gigantic. As part of a trade, Moss would restructure and perhaps even extend his current contract, which calls for base salaries of $9.75 million in 2007 and $11.25 million in 2008.

This morning guys at ESPN continued the “New England is having the greatest off-season ever” hype with all five analysts on screen penciling them in as Super Bowl Champions next season.

Here’s a list of New England’s recent veteran acquisitions:

1. Sammy Morris RB: Age 30
2. Donte Stallworth WR: Age 26
3. Kelly Washington WR: Age 27
4. Kyle Brady TE: Age 35
5. Randy Moss WR: Age 30
6. Adalius Thomas LB: Age 30
7. Wes Welker WR: Age 25

Average age: 29 The Patriots better win it all this season like everyone and their mom will predict, because going forward they have added a lot of mileage to a roster that was already one of the NFL’s oldest.

Deshawn Zombie Comments: I am absolutely giddy over this news. New England has finally jumped the shark. Randy Moss ISN’T ANY GOOD ANY MORE. He’s toxic and will suck royally in NE destroying the fabric of their offense. Best of all, when Brady has another season exactly like every other season he’s ever had, people will finally shut up about him not having receivers. This move says that the Pats are betting the house on this year because their window is closing. This will be Brady’s last trip to the playoffs for a long time. This is the BEST news a Colts fan could hope for.

Remember that Randy Moss is NOT the Randy Moss of 8 years ago that was young, healthy, played in a dome, and had the whole offense built around him. This move is way more “Redskinesque” than Patriots-like. NE has to complete restructure their offense now that they have 2 deep WR and lost Daniel Graham at TE. Brady is a west-coast O QB. This is going to be a disaster.

If you want an objective opinion about this check out this article by (who else) the footballoutsiders.
http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/6753502
They are more optimistic about Moss than I am, but still agree that this is not the slam dunk 1600 yards and 15 TDs that some bean eaters are envisioning.

Why we skipped two highly rated defenders…

April 29, 2007

For those of you who wondered why the Colts passed on defenders Alan Branch and Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, check out this article by SI’s Don Banks
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/don_banks/04/28/draft.day1.winners.losers/2.html

In short, it seems that Branch is lazy and Posluszny is slow. There are still tons of picks left for defense.

Demond Sanders comments: Polian is hilarious. I loved his comments in the Indianapolis Star about the first round drama. “From (pick number) 20 on in, we were engaged. From about 28 on, we were sweating. Anthony Gonzalez was the last name on the board,” Polian said. “We got him and that’s what counts.” Right, Bill. No one else was going to take that dude. You were sweating? You could have been playing badminton in your war room and it would not have mattered. That said, all we have to do is watch the youtube clip below to get psyched up about next year.

To further confuse the issue, the Colts have RE-SIGNED AARON MOOREHEAD. Actually, this kind of makes sense because Moorehead himself has said he is not comfortable as a slot receiver. Last year the Colts were often forced to play Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark in the slot if they wanted to use a 3 WR set. Moorehead provides depth for Marvin and Reggie, but is probably not a long-term solution as a starter in the slot. This means the Aaron Moorehead show on ESPN950 is back on for another year! Actually he’s a pretty insightful guy considering his limited playing time; and he seems like a good locker-room guy.

Colts draft WR Gonzalez

April 28, 2007

Well folks, we talked about it just days ago and it happened. The Colts took a wideout with their first round pick. I suppose the attitude is that our offense writes the checks for the team, so you have to make a deposit. We haven’t drafted a WR since Reggie Wayne. I fear this means that we are only 3 years away from saying good bye to #88. I hope it isn’t so, but he’ll be 37 and making a crap load of money. It took Reggie Wayne 3 years to develop as a real #1. Gonzalez now has the luxury to develop slowly.

This also makes our offense utterly unstoppable and allows Dallas Clark to line up as a TE where he can do the most damage. I predict that all the rest of the picks will be spent on defense.

Of course, no sooner do I type that than the Colts trade up in order to draft an OT from Arkansas. This definitely has to be a signal that the Terrik Glenn era is coming to end after this year. They gave up a 4th round pick this year (they had 3) and a first rounder next year. This trade will anger some Colts fans, but it makes sense. They gave up the 30-32nd pick next year for the 42nd pick this year. If Ugoh becomes a solid starting lineman, it’s a great deal. If he doesn’t, then it’s bad. Basically, it gives them support at the all important tackle position without costing this year’s draft. Not a bad idea.

Demond Sanders comments: Yeah, so I was one of the fans who “lost it” when hearing we gave up a first rounder next year for this guy. But, as usual, after a few minutes I quickly remember that Polian knows what he’s doing – that goes for drafting Gonzalez as well. If all goes well the Colts will have only given up the 32nd pick in next year’s draft and a fourth rounder this year. And from the few highlights they showed of Ugoh, he looks like a beast who moves people around in the running game. If anyone saw Arkansas play last year they saw how aggressive that offense was.

Remember: the Colts have seven more picks in this draft (gotta love the compensatory picks). As we said this past week – the team starts with the offense and goes from there. Protect Peyton, give him weapons, and run the football. I think the offense is set now (I can’t think of any holes left except maybe backup RB or FB) so Polian and company can commence trying to fix the run defense. Good luck guys!

Why the Titans didn’t draft a WR (and other draft observations)

April 28, 2007

A lot of analysts are shocked that the Titans didn’t draft a wideout to compliment Mike Vi..ooops, I mean Vince Young. They keep wondering who Young will throw to. The answer: no one. Vince Young will not be throwing the ball much at all this year. The analysts have somehow forgotten Steve McNair’s first 5-7 years in Tennessee. The Titans NEVER threw. Their entire offense was running Eddie George 400 times a year and throwing to Wycheck the tight end. Young is NOT an NFL quality passer. He might turn into one in 8 years like McNair finally did, but he just isn’t at that level right now. The Titans would be CRAZY to invest in a wideout. They let their wideouts walk in free agency. Why? They won’t be needing them. They will use the passing game sparingly in a controlled way. It’s the smartest thing you can do if you have a guy who can’t throw.

Also, note that all three of the Colts rivals in the AFC South drafted defensive players despite the fact that all three have major needs on offense. Maybe this is just the way it shook out, but it seems like the Colts have the division spooked.

Brady Quinn to Cleveland is interesting. Most of the sites I trust tend to rate him above Russel. This is potentially a huge move for Cleveland, but the question is the price. If Cleveland has a terrible year this year, and they will because 1. they suck and 2. they play in probably the toughest division in the NFL and 3. their QB will either be a rookie or Channing Frye, then they will be giving up a potential top 5 pick next year. If Cleveland has some kind of miracle season, then this will prove to be a great deal. Given the fact that Bill Polian claimed there were only 18 first round quality players, this could prove to be an amazing move for Dallas.

Cleveland GM Phil Savage may have made a great trade, but he does not come off well in interviews. He said, “Honestly, I think our first round pick next year was attractive to teams because they don’t think we’ll be very good.” He also commented, “Selfishly, I’m tired of scouting, so now without a first round pick next year I won’t have to scout”. WHAT??? Suddenly, I’m seriously questioning the Browns. But that’s par for the course.

Kudos to Mel Kiper Jr. who did correctly pick the first 7 players in the draft and 9 overall. Pretty impressive job.

Kravitz reverses field. Special teams contract in the works?

April 28, 2007

In what would be a stunning reversal if Bob Kravitz had any track record of consistency, the Indianapolis Star’s lead columnist did a 180 from his column last Sunday and is now saying that we should trust Bill Polian and his staff to make the right moves for the Colts.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070428/COLUMNISTS01/704280504/1100/SPORTS03

Well, duh, Bob. This is the column you should have written last week. He’s like the Clarence Verdin of columnists. You never know which way he’s going to go, but you can almost bet it won’t be forward.

The Bostonization of Sports Commentary

April 27, 2007

Watching ARod kill the ball over the past few weeks has made me laugh at all the people who rip him or say that he has under-performed on his contract (as if 2 MVP awards was under performing). It’s made me realize that sometimes, even things that are generally good can conspire in a way to produce bad results.

Over the course of the last several years a trend toward negativity and shouting has been on the rise in the media. In large part, this is due to the fact that with more media choices than ever, many think the only way to be heard is to yell. Oddly enough, an increase in options had led to a decrease in the overall quality of information that most of us can get. There is more pressure than ever on the primary sources of sports news (the networks and ESPN) to go for flash instead of substance, because the suits figure that understated analytical commentary won’t hold the viewers interest when pitted against no talent ass clowns like Terry Bradshaw yelling about everything in sight. I call this the “Roman Commentary” after chief idiot in charge, Jim Rome.

Couple this with fact that New England has become the center of the sports opinion world. ESPN’s location in Connecticut has led them give extra attention to the Boston teams of the Patriots and Red Sox. They even hired a local blogger and made him a star. Now, look, I love ESPN, and I’m a Bill Simmons fan, but they have helped to spread the ‘Boston’ culture all over the States. What is the Boston culture?

Hating your rival and tearing them down at every chance.

Boston fans HATE the Yankees and ironically refer to them as ‘the Evil Empire’. They hate ARod because he plays for the Yankees. Fans in Boston are more smug, more hateful, and less civil than fans in almost any other part of the country. They have also exported the “Choker Philosophy”.

The “Choker Philosophy” was born out of the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl at the same time the Colts rose to power combined with a general cultural shift toward less thoughtful analysis and more mindless name calling. It has imbued and polluted every area of sports now. Fans in Boston resented the fact that Peyton Manning got more press than Tom Brady. They (quite wrongly) asserted that if Brady won Super Bowls and Manning didn’t, Brady MUST be better. They were shallow and stupid and ignored any of the dozens of real reasons the Patriots won such as brilliant coaching, a brutally tough D, an amazing kicker, and a lot of luck. Brady is a great QB in his way, but he’s not Manning and never will be. They couldn’t accept that, so the denigrated him. They called him a choker, a loser, stat boy, and (gasp) Marino.

Bear in mind that when Marino was playing, no one called him these names. He was understood to be the best, or at least one of the 3 best along with Montana and Elway. He wasn’t vilified and questioned at every turn. When he played, the media didn’t continually crucify him. But now, his name is an insult. Now, everyone mocks him when he appears at the Super Bowl. Now, the Dilfers and Johnsons of the world are somehow more complete players. Why? The Bostonization of sports.

When the Patriots started to win, they made the Red Sox look bad. Then the Sox won. Boston was on top of the world, and they wanted everyone to know it. Only players who won championships were great; guys who didn’t were losers. There was no need to debate who the best QBs were. One only had to rank them in terms of Super Bowls. If one QB had more rings than another, he must be better. This was the ONLY way to elevate Tom Brady above not just Manning, but Elway, Unitas, Griese, and any of a number of other Hall of Famers.

Guys like ARod and Manning got killed every time their team lost a playoff game, whether or not it was their fault. Manning played very well in Colts/Steelers game 2 years ago. He almost single handedly pulled them from the grave. But when Vanderjagt yanked the kick, Manning was the choker. ARod single handedly won a postseason series for the Yankees against Minnesota a few year back, but then he struggled in the ALCS, so he’s a choker.

In Baseball, winning or not winning a title was NEVER the standard. The all time greats like Williams or Banks that never won titles were not viewed as failures. But now, the Boston minds have decided to kill the most brilliant player alive (Alex Rodriguez) because he doesn’t play for the Red Sox. So what do they use? They can’t use facts or stats or analysis. They use name calling. ARod is a choker. Just like that bum, Manning. They can’t win the big one.

Peyton had it right when he refused to play this game by ‘celebrating’ the monkey off his back. He recognized that the entire discussion was stupid and didn’t want to validate it. Manning and ARod are two of the greatest players in the history of their sports. We shouldn’t let the Beantown Whiners destroy our enjoyment of their exploits. Boston fans started the culture of hate in sports, and yet Bill Simmons wrote a column with a surprised tone last fall called “We Hate Everything” in which he was shocked that people hate the Patriots. People hate the Pats because Pats fans hate everyone. They were too smug, too irrational, too ungracious. They chose to rip Manning rather than celebrate their team. They worship Brady, fine. But it wasn’t enough. They had to kill Manning at the same time. Their mistake was they bet against the wrong horse. By the time all is said and done, Brady will be remembered as a fine qb, but they’ll say, “He was no Manning” and he’ll look the less for it. That comparison should never have been made, but they begged for it confident in their hatred. Now the tide has turned, and they act shocked that no one likes their team or them.

I’m glad for media options. I like ESPN. I like Bill Simmons. But together, they have all worked against decency and reason in sports. They tear down heroes rather than build them. They mock the defeated rather than respect their efforts. Sure, Manning’s off the hook-he’s a ‘winner’ now. ARod’s still on it, but his performance is teaching us all over again how great he really is and and always has been.

So yes, we make fun of Brady and the Pats here. And yes, we think that Brady is classically overrated and gets way too much credit for other people’s hard work. But that’s not his fault. He’ll never win another Super Bowl, but that doesn’t mean ‘he’s lost it’. It won’t be any more his fault when they don’t win than it was when they did. We won’t be calling him a choker or a loser (not seriously anyway).

We reject the Bostonization of sports.

Of the sports stars I’ve watched over the years, only Vanderjagt was consistently bad in big moments, and even he hit some amazing 50+ yard Fgs to win games. On any given day, someone is going to be the hero and someone will be the goat. There’s no point in labeling or killing guys for it.

We reject the “Choker Philosophy”.

If you don’t have something to say that is either a. smart or b. funny, shut the hell up. If you can’t get people’s attention without being outrageous, then you don’t deserve to be heard.

We reject “Roman Commentary”.

The deep end of the Poole?

April 27, 2007

Len Paquarelli, whose work I usually enjoy, posted a disturbing thought today.

http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insider/columns/story?columnist=pasquarelli_len&id=2850900&CMP=OTC-DT9705204233

Tyrone Poole is looking to get back into the NFL for one more season and:

“Poole, 35, feels he can fill the No. 4 cornerback role on some team’s roster and his preference would be to sign with Indianapolis, where he would serve as a mentor to young corners Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden and Tim Jennings”.

I suppose that in that capacity it might makes sense, but he was one of the worst on field Colts ever, and one of Polian’s few mistakes. The thought of him getting burnt in a Colts uniform disturbs me greatly. I hope we haven’t been reduced to this.

Who the hell is Mel Kiper Jr?

April 27, 2007

One more solid article from our friends at the best football website, footballoutsiders.com. This time they take on the holiest of all draft cows, ESPNs Mel Kiper Jr. The article is not as thorough or detailed as I would like (mainly because an accurate full critique of Kiper’s work would take months), but it still serves to prove my earlier points about the draft being a lot of talk by ‘experts’ who don’t really know anything. Kiper is the best known draft expert, but his track record for accuracy is NOT that great. Check it out.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/2007/04/27/ramblings/nfl-draft/5104/