Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Silly Season is Over...Hear Is What We Learned

That title is me being facetious; I have seen hundreds of "what we have learned" articles in the NFL media over the last couple of months and all are meaningless until the season gets underway. So what I am about to do is make fun of all this off-season hype as if I was actually in charge of weighing it in the balances.

Vonn Miller--an Aggie, which is why I give a crap about him--has until July 15 to sign his franchise tender with the Broncos, who are run by John Elway, who is as overrated a GM as Ozzie Newsome is...folks these two have made some great decisions, but also some crappy ones as well that no one likes to talk about because after all the consensus has them as being two of the best GMs in NFL history (and here's the kicker--three or so years ago they said the same thing about Trent Baalke, who is now considered one of the WORST GMs!)...and I really think Elway will regret letting Brock Osweiler walk, even if Osweiler wanted to walk. (It's one thing for players to walk if they really want to when they are say, good but not great RBs--Lamar Miller--or WRs--Rishard Matthews--but when it is QBs it's a different don't just replace a guy who was actually mentored by a Peyton Manning with a guy who made infamy with "the Butt Fumble.") As for Ozzie, what did he have to do with the bust Michael Oher who is now a player the Panthers just resigned to keep? And look at the WRs he's drafted lately (who cannot get on the field)...and the fact that he dissed maybe the best OL in the 2016 draft because he's freaked out about possible marijuana usage...

But anyway, IMHO they screwed the guy who mightily helped them win another Super Bowl (and an Aggie). Don't even think Elway is the best GM in the NFL right now! But again it's all about "well he just might get into trouble again" nonsense. Miller said he straightened up and has shown so. Miller is NOT Johnny Manziel, for pity sake!

And speaking of QBs...another so-called rising GM works for the Jets, McCagnan (spelling?), yet the Jets are STILL in cap hell (which was where Miami was as well, but for the Capologist of the Century Dawn Aponte...folks I'm being facetious, remember?), STILL have to get Mo Wilkerson signed, and STILL have to get Ryan Fitzpatrick signed (or else they are stuck with Geno you really expect Coach Todd Bowles, the best HC the Jets have had in years, to not praise the guy?). For the Jets are (as usual) stuck between a rock and a hard place--if they sign Fitz to what he wants they risk Fitz pulling the same crap he pulled after the Bills handed him over 50 mil and then he proceeds to suck the rest of the year--for instance, the 6-10 Dolphins swept the Bills in 2011!--and if they don't sign him they risk having to rely on Geno Smith, who the rest of the Jets do NOT want as QB! And just how did the Jets get into cap hell in the first place? McCagnan, and those before him, spent big on players they should not have spent big on...folks it did not work in Miami; why did the Jets think it would work in NY? (And the Dolphins may have learned their lesson; they have not made their usual big signings this year or is that Tannenbaum being Tannenbaum?)

I have a question for the Patriots not related to DeflateGate...every couple of years you guys draft a QB that you claim "will understudy Tom Brady" but then he never gets a real shot and then you draft another "understudy for Tom Brady" who will never get his shot either, and then some day Brady retires and you have no idea how good this understudy will be. And while Belichick has certainly brought glory to the Pats (astericks?), is he setting this team up for failure in the not too distant future? Unless Brady's suspension is lifted, we may soon find out how good or bad Garropolo or that rookie of theirs is. That event, Pats fans, could be exactly what your team needs.

It'll be interesting to know who the so-called experts will react if their off-season darlings, the Raiders and Jaguars, pull their usual crap instead of, as these experts predict, making the playoffs. Your pontificating on the "rise of the Dolphins" didn't work last year; what makes you think the Raiders and Jags (and the Bucs! Good grief! What has Dick Koetter ever done!) will fair any differently?

And what will Joe PhilBUM (because he screwed an Aggie, Ryan Tannehill) say if his wonder in Derek Carr flails even worse than Tannehill supposedly did last year?

And Allen Robinson better than Jarvis Landry? Are you kidding me??? How much were these players bribed to rank Robinson better than Mr. One-handed Grab (sorry, Odell Beckham) on the bogus NFL Top 100?

And here is my prediction for surprise team of the year--the Browns.

I'm joking, okay?

Finally, one Rex Ryan's claim that the Bills "won the off-season"...well, he did for the Bills media, that's for sure. Mike Florio did one helluva piece on what some Bills reporter said about the wonders of Rexy here. Folks, Bills fans, as hard core as can be, truly deserve better!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why "Your Team" Will Not Make 2016 NFL Playoffs

Cheatsheet, which has a sports category and an NFL category under their sports category, is posting articles as to why every team will or will not make the playoffs. For instance, they recently did a post explaining why the Denver Broncos (who won Supe 50) will not make the playoffs (and of course it all revolves around the "Peyton Manning retires" issue). Well, since every year there are usually four or five new teams in the playoffs (in 2015 it was the Texans, Chiefs, Redskins, and Vikings), that means four or five teams that made the playoffs the year before missed the playoffs.

Now we all know the Patriots will make the playoffs again as well as the Packers and Seahawks...right?  I mean as long as Brady and Belichick are in New England... right? Folks there is really only one reason New England is able to keep it up--because their division rivals have sucked for so long! Pats fans do not realize it, but at some point this will change. (True story: when Miami was dominating the AFC East in the early 70s I never thought that would change, not even after Csonka and the rest went to the WFL! I never saw the 1975 Colts coming! But goodness gracious, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets can't be incompetent forever--heck with the hire of Adam Gase maybe the clueless Stephen Ross has finally gotten the memo! And if the Jets can sign their defensive wonders and Ryan Fitzpatrick has another good year and they can somehow manage to keep Chris Ivory, a very big IF, there is no reason why the Jets can't challenge...the Fins are still a year or two away, though, unless Gase can completely unleash Tannehill (and get that God-awful OL together!)...the Bills? Sorry, but Rex Ryan and his bro are too much drama...that team should have made the playoffs this year, and is Tyrod for real?)

Folks, there is every reason in the world one can say the Pats won't make the playoffs, or the Packers or Seattle or even that wonder in Carolina. Just like one can say Tennessee or Jacksonville or (wait for it) Cleveland can!

So here is why every NFL team has a chance to NOT make the 2016 NFL playoffs, in divisional order (sorry, but with the Rams moving to LA it screws up my alphabetical order thing...from Kansas City to it's KC to LA!). Starting with the AFC (naturally, since I follow the AFC more), and I'll keep it short and sweet:

Buffalo--Rex Ryan, who admitted he is no longer a defensive coordinator, will eventually admit he's no longer a head coach.

Miami--Sorry, but until the Dolphins prove they can make the playoffs, I refuse to pick them to make the playoffs! Enough bogus optimism is enough!

New England--Did anyone see them get clobbered by Denver's defense and not be able to stop Peyton when they needed to despite the fact that Peyton had his worst year ever? The clock is ticking on the Patriots' demise.

New York Jets--Everyone is proclaiming Miami's cap hell as not workable (though Dawn Aponte is THE capologist!)--meanwhile the Jets have twice as many players that must be resigned for them to resemble last year's 10-6 record, and less cap space than Miami! And, oh yeah...what if they can't resign Ryan Fitzpatrick?

Baltimore--Everyone is saying the Ravens missed out last year just because of Flacco's injury...I mean after all Ozzie Newsone is THE GM, right? Well, what if Flacco does NOT get back to his standard? Can they resign Osemele?

Cincinnati--Since they can't seem to win in the playoffs, why bother? Fail, and maybe then they have a reason to fire Marvin "I can't discipline players" Lewis.

Cleveland--There are many reasons, but I can only pick one: because they're the Browns.

Pittsburgh--Big Ben, Antonio Brown,and LeVeon Bell all get put in injured reserve for the year in game one...folks that's all I can come up with...

Houston--Who's that guy who plays QB, it's not JJ Watt. (And they would not have made playoffs in 2015 had Miami, who they'd never lost to, not annihilated their butts, 41-0 at halftime! Now THAT'S a wake-up call!)

Indianapolis--Joe PhilBUM is their new OL coach...need I say more? Good luck, Luck!

Jacksonville--I just can't buy into the Blake Bortles "vast improvement from last year" hype...heck the same thing happened to Ryan Tannehill in 2014, which means...?

Tennessee--Mike Mularkey? Really?

Denver--Yep, the "Peyton Manning issue"...Plus the "Brock Osweiler issue"...

Kansas City--Now does anyone really think the Chiefs will win 11 games in a row again?

Oakland--Jack Del Rio will only take this team so far...too bad Joe "Screw Tannehill, give me Derek Carr" PhilBUM isn't coaching them!

San Diego--Now, if they played the Dolphins in San Diego about 12 times a year...maybe...

Dallas--what if Romo never gets well?

New York Giants--Gee, if Odell Beckham couldn't get it done, can Eli?

Philadelphia--Well, at least they can't blame this on Chip Kelly...Bradford, maybe...

Washington--Kirk Cousins gets a huge extension, and then, of course, won't earn it...the Skins can't surprise anyone this year...

Chicago--No Adam Gase, no good Jay Cutler.

Detroit--After what happened to the Lions in 2015, is not making the playoffs a surprise?

Green Bay--They barely made it last with the Pats, the only thing that keeps the Pack from NOT making the playoffs is lack of divisional opponent toughness...but the Vikes did it to them last year. With a healthy Aaron discount double check?

Minnesota--Even the great Teddy boy can have a down year...just ask Ryan Tannehill...

Atlanta--Well, they did beat Carolina last year, but still...

Carolina--Cam Newton has reached his peek and missing the playoffs will force the diva out of him.

New Orleans--Drew Brees simply cannot do it anymore, and Katrina was years ago.

Tampa Bay--Just because the Bucs went from 2-14 to 6-10 doesn't mean they'll jump four games again to 10-6...

Arizona--Carson Palmer will return to form, and Bruce Arians will come back down to earth...I hope! (And why does he give a crap Miami didn't hire Todd Bowles as HC in 2012? The Jets did in 2015--now shut up already!)

Los Angeles--and you thought I'd say "St. Louis"! LA or SL, Jeff Fisher is still LOL (Lose Out Loud)

San Francisco--Blame this one on Chip Kelly...somebody has to!

Seattle--This team is too arrogant to make the playoffs again, but at least they can't kick Marshawn Lynch around anymore...when they can't kick Richard "I am the greatest!" Sherman around anymore, let me know.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Super Bowl, 50. And Why It Is Nearly Impossible Now to Sustain Success

We have quickly moved in the NFL from the Coaching Carousel and the playoffs to the Super Bowl, which for this year only is designated with a non-Roman numeral, that is, 50, because that Roman numeral L just implies too much negativity, with L equals "lost" or "loss" or "lose". And unlike last year's matchup between the trash-talkers (Seahawks) and the cheaters (Patriots) in which I wanted BOTH teams to lose, for this year I have no favorite. I want the Panthers to win because their fans deserve it and it would be their first Super Bowl win...IMHO every team should have a Super Bowl win (okay, okay, every team not coached by Rex Ryan!). And while the Broncos are (thanks to my own stupidity when I bet they'd lose to the spread in 1981 and screwed me by beating it) one of my least favorite teams, it would be nice for Peyton Manning to retire with this Super Bowl win under his belt because he truly is one of the great ones (and I said retire! You next, Tom Brady!). Now the Panthers really are the better team...after all they nearly went unbeaten, and they are now the model of excellence in terms of management and personnel from GM to coaches to players, and just another example why if you are going to build an excellent team you really do have to reach the bottom first (in 2010 they went 1-15 or something, and then they cleaned house--and then they got it right just about every way you can in choosing coaches, Free Agency, and the Draft. Folks, how often does this happen? Very, very rarely!) The other reason the Panthers are better is that they are more "team" whereas Denver is so reliant on the presence of Peyton that had he not been there, no way would the Broncos have made it this far (and I'm not knocking Brock Osweiler here, but he would not have brought Denver this far, period!). So it would seem Carolina would win. Yet, Peyton and the rest of the Broncos just might be good enough to pull off an upset, and, who knows? The game just might have already been decided by the league front office/officials.

But to explain why it is nearly impossible to sustain success, what with front offices having to decide each year which players they will be forced to let go due to salary caps--and BTW, I favor salary caps, for the simple reason that "buying" a championship team is not fair and is only short term. Pat Riley "bought" a championship caliber team a few years ago for the Miami Heat and it worked, but not in the long term. And remember when George Steinbrenner kept buying great Yankee teams? Just how many World Series did this bought and paid for team win? A few perhaps, but not in the long run. Salary caps FORCE a team to make consistently good decisions, and that's what you want if you own a don't want to be firing folks left and right every year...which is seemingly what the Panthers did for years, even making John Fox, one of the better coaches historically, a lame duck.

A side note: it seems that the following structure in front offices works the best: either the owner/CEO/Whatever hires the GM (or his designate does...some owners have better things to do than "run" football teams), the GM hires the head coach, the head coach hires the coordinators and with their feedback hires the rest of the coaches, and the GM hires the scouting team for the draft as well as funnels in desirable free agents (and works with the "capologist"), and naturally works with the coaches regarding free agents and draftees. This type of set-up appears to be the one that works the best even with absentee owners. Other systems, such as direct owner (Jerry Jones, for instance) involvement in everything, or firing coaches while keeping GMs that hired them, and then the following year, firing the GM, while the new GM has to keep the same head coach (you know, like a certain team in South Florida has done for years...until now! Does Stephen Ross finally get it?), or firing both GM and head coach seemingly every year with no stability whatsoever (you know, the Browns?), or keeping, just for the sake of stability, the same mediocre head coach (the Rams) or the same mediocre GM (Mayhew...but the Lions finally figured that one out, as well!) year after year with virtually no success at all...or the newer meme of making a power-hungry head coach the de facto GM just because he's a genius (Chip Kelly...gee how did that work out?). And then, after all this is worked out, the owner/czar and GM and coaches and players and everyone else involved in any of the decision making MUST ALWAYS BE ON THE SAME PAGE!

Considering all of the egos involved, what is the likelihood of ALL of these folks ALWAYS being on the same page? And if they are not, then some level of (to use PFT's Mike Florio's favorite word) dysfunction is bound to happen. Over the course of the "post-merger Super Bowl Era" in the NFL, every team has had some dysfunction until at some point they finally get it right. Believe it or not, the now consistently stable Pittsburgh Steelers used to be one of the worst NFL franchises, until they finally got it right in the early 70s. Then in the 80s, when father Art Rooney passed the team passed the team onto his son, his some made a fatal mistake in 1983 that destroyed whatever was left of the Steeler dynasty: they failed to draft Dan Marino. This failure caused the Steelers to pretty much suck for about ten years, and at some point the great coach Chuck Noll retired and they hired Bill Cowher and made things right again. But just that one bad mistake badly cost the team. On his death bed, the elder Rooney's dying words to his son were: "You should have drafted Dan Marino."

Actually the most stable teams are the ones that get passed on from father to son/daughter, but that doesn't always work when you have competing family members (the fact that this situation happened when Dolphins founder Joe Robbie passed on, and no family member could figure it out, so then they had to sell the team, so that when Wayne Huizenga bought the team in the mid-90s his first thought was (and I am being facetious here) "just who the heck is Don Shula?" So Shula is forced to retire (he knew he'd be fired at some's a shame when such a great coach feels like he's going to be fired for no reason other than the new owner wants Jimmy Johnson...), and where have the Dolphins been ever since? In the land of dysfunction! So has absentee owner Stephen Ross, relying on Mike Tannenbaum (czar), Chris Grier (GM), Dawn Aponte (capologist, and one of the best IMHO), Adam Gase and his staff and the players, finally gotten the memo?

Apparently Jerry Jones has, allowing his some Mark to run the Cowboys, at last, as GM. Folks, the only reason Dallas sucked this year was Tony Romo's injury and lack of caliber replacement. But Jerry Jones finally got it right. So can Ross and the other newer owners. (Except the Pegulas in keeping Rex Ryan (and now his brother, who took a good Saints D and screwed it up!) and the same GM who hired Doug Marone before Marone quit (never a good thing...see Bill Parcells leaving Miami right after he threw QB Chad Henne under a bus in 2010), the Pegulas will likely have to deal with Dolphins-level dysfunction soon.

Finally, dysfunction can happen when you least expect it. Think 2015 San Francisco Forty-Niners...And great stability means nothing if you can't sustain success. Think the recent New York Giants. And sometimes you need a little luck...whether it's named Andrew or something else. And sometimes stupidity ruins everything (think the playoff Bengals...are they the stupidest playoff team ever or what?).

In other words, fans of the Carolina Panthers should count their blessings, because what Carolina has accomplished is an outlier.

And now onto finishing up this post with an article I almost posted two weeks ago but then got caught up in other stuff...


Just found out (after it was being claimed that Joe Philbin was being hired by the Giants for some offensive capacity) that this same goofy-looking former Miami head coach--who, when he supposedly said he wanted to draft Derek Carr in 2014 because he was giving up on Ryan Tannehill...why, after Tannehill had a fine 2014 season, though no playoffs--basically was throwing Tannehill under a bus (and Tannehilll knew it after the 2014 season...remember when Philbin said he didn't know who the starting QB would be before the London game against the Raiders?), which might explain why he did not seriously attempt to fix an offensive line that was basically killing Tannehill (most sacks by a wide margin since 2012)...well, anyway, the Colts have hired this SOB to "fix" their offensive line, right? But Philbin--or should I call him as he'd been called on a Dolphins fan site, the Phinsider--PhilBUM--certainly knows Andrew Luck is light years ahead of Tannehill, sooooo...yeah he'll fix the Colts OL, all right! Just like he fixed Green Bay's in 2010 when Aaron Rodgers (another QB light years ahead of Tannehill thanks to Philbin's crappy coaching!) was sacked about 60 times! (But they won the Super Bowl, sooo...)

And speaking of Tannehill...though he had an off -year and did regress somewhat, the fact is he did quite a bit better after PhilBUM was fired (what took Ross so long to do so? What with PhilBUM's throwing Tanny under a bus like he supposedly did, the man shoulda been fired right after 2014! Why does it take so long for some owners to get the picture?), and also did a bit better after DeVante Parker started playing after being on injured reserve for 8 weeks.

But that regression could end (or get worse?) in 2016 because Ross hired a head coach that is known to "fix" QBs, Tim Tebow to Jay Cutler, with Peyton Manning in the middle to show this coach a thing or two, that is, Adam Gase. Naturally, Dolphins fans are complaining about the hire "because he has no head coaching experience...they shoulda hired Hue Jackson! Or Mike Shanahan (really? After he threw RGIII under another bus?)! Or Tom Coughlin (who was "fired" the way Shula was in 1996--Coughlin "retired"--because the Giants sucked the past couple of years, WITH Eli Manning! So this is a guy who can "fix" Tannehill?)! Or Dan Campbell, the interim HC that had to fire Bill Lazor because Lazor was "also" (maybe) not utilizing Tannehill the way he should have been utilized, and then proceeds to screw up the running game some more...yeah, the player's coach who really did very little "fixing" Tannehil or anything else! But, as with the GEICO "it's what they do" commercial, that's what Dolphins fans do, complain! (Another reason to NOT be a Dolphins fan! All the optimism, just to be let down for the umpteenth time...why bother rooting for this team? But I could say the same thing about Bills fans...and speaking of the Bills...)

Leave it to Rexy to hire his brother, Rob Ryan--who couldn't coach the Saints or Dallas D to save his life--to "fix" the Bills suddenly crappy defense--because Rex Ryan screwed it up! Now how does Rex "Defensive Guru" Ryan screw up an already outstanding defense in Buffalo? So badly that Mario Williams doesn't want to return to Buffalo? But don't worry Bills fans, Rexy and Rob will get you to the playoffs next year. Right!

So the Eagles hire an Andy Reid protege', Doug Pederson, while the Bucs hire former coordinator Dick Koetter as well as Mike Smith for D coordinator, and the Giants hire former OC Ben McAdoo, and the Browns (no really!) hire Hue Jackson, and the 49ers hire Chip Kelly...

I don't have much to say about who the Eagles and Browns and Giants and Bucs hired, but Chip Kelly to the 49ers makes no sense considering dysfunction between owner York and GM Baalke is the reason Jim Harbaugh left for Michigan...and which head coach wants more power than Chip Kelly? But he won't get it in Frisco, where Baalke, once considered a top GM, now looks like a guy who courts dysfunction. And the Titans still do not have a head coach for 2016 (plus they fired their GM, Russ Weber). Maybe they're waiting for Panthers OC Mike Shula to become available. (Note: the Titans hired interim coach Mike Mularkey.)

I do not know if Gase or any other first-time head coach will succeed or not, but any head coach who has succeeded has had a first-time coaching experience, and some succeeded AS first-time head coaches. Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Parcells, Mike Tomlin, Mike McCarthy, and, to a lesser extent, Tom Coughlin and Ted Marchibroda and John Harbaugh...and I am sure there are others that succeeded as first-time head coaches, some wildly. Others suceeded as second-time coaches (Belichick and Don Shula), and others are third-timers (Pete Carroll and others). So why can't any of the first time head coaches succeed? If these first timers are co-ordinators like Gase or Pederson, there is no reason to think they cannot succeed. Non-coordinators would likely have more issues, which could be a reason Dan Campbell only went 5-7 as Miami's interrum head coach. If you are a co-ordinator you have charge of either offense or defense or special teams with assistants under you.

Here is IMHO what a first- or second- or whatever-timer head coach needs to have to succeed:

1. A nucleus of talent that is willing to do whatever it takes, and especially a QB. Many writers are giddy over the Browns hiring Hue Jackson. But IMHO unless he gets a good young QB it won't matter. Don't let the Texans making the playoffs fool you...Brian Hoyer proved he is NOT a franchise QB and was the primary weakness, and Andrew Luck's injuries were the main reason Houston got in, not the Colts (remember that Miami made the 2008 playoffs mainly because Tom Brady was out for the year with an injury...this year the Texans became the mirage instead). So unless Jackson gets his QB, what is the likelihood he will succeed in Cleveland?

2. Complete confidence from the owner and front office. This is why I question the Niners' hiring of Chip Kelly, who brought his own level of dysfunction when he forced his way to the GM role in Philly; the Niners have already enough dysfunction. See number 3. But if Kelly can keep his ego in check, he should succeed with Kaepernick and Co.

3. Being the top choice of your owner and front office right off the bat. The Dolphins wanted Gase above all others, and they got him. In the past they had to "settle" for a head coach that was third or fourth on their list (Philbin, when they couldn't get Jeff Fisher...who has done nothing for the Rams either!...Same goes for GM, settling for Hickey, whom they also just fired). That means the owner and front office have confidence in you and will do whatever to have you succeed.

4. At least some co-ordinator experience, but previous HC experience is a better predictor of likely success. All the coaches who have had great success (see above) had some co-ordinator experience and some even had some HC experience, the more the better. But having many years of experience like Shanahan or Coughlin can be as detrimental as having very little because NFL trends change all the time and what if these older coaches can't or won't keep up? Inability to adapt is probably why Shanny and Coughlin couldn't keep up (which is why I cannot believe Fins fans wanted Shanahan after what happened with RGIII). Now Gase is very young, but when Don Shula started out with the Colts in 1964, he was as young as Gase is now.

5. Rapport with players. You do not have to be a "player's coach" like Rex Ryan or (supposedly) Dan Campbell to succeed, nor must you be a "tyrant" like supposedly Belichick is (or, according to some '72 Dolphins, Shula was), nor must you be a "genius" like Bill Walsh. But you must be a bit of all three: "player coach", tyrant, and genius. Few coaches have all three, which is why so few coaches truly succeed. They say Bill Belichick is obsessive-compulsive, and as long as he can make his players the same (you know, Brady?), he will continue to succeed with the Pats (a little cheating helps though). Regardless, you must be able to get the players where you want them.

6. Being in the right place at the right time. The best example of this nowadays is Ron Rivera. He gets a good young QB in Cam Newton, and then he gets the best MLB since Ray Lewis or Zach Thomas in Luke Keuchley, and then he gets a great WR in Benjamin and then he gets a great reclamation project in Michael Oher. What could possibly go wrong? The Panthers have drafted very well lately, have an excellent young roster with a smattering of savvy vets, and they are situated in the right division (the fairly weak, but not very weak, NFC South). And yes, they have a Shula (Mike, that is...).

7. Good scouting, good FA signings, and good drafting. See Panthers above. But also that could be why Mike Zimmer in Minnesota is looking good at this point (and why the Browns needed another new HC...what if the Browns would have drafted Teddy Bridgewater instead of Johnny "Mr. Immature" Manziel?  Drafting a future franchise QB is a must (and if you still don't have one, hire a coach who will develop one...which is why Miami got Gase--to make Tannehill into one!)

8. A Plan. But the plan has to have the front office and maybe even the owner involved, and this plan has to make sure the right assistant coaches and co-ordinators are part of it. That way, they know how to get the players in on it; after all, the players have to carry out the plan. For instance, do you plan around the talent you have, or force the talent into your plan? Or do you completely start over?

9. Luck. And I don't mean Andrew! By "luck" I mean a random event or two has to happen that will help you succeed where you might not have succeeded without it. Since I know much of Dolphins history under Don Shula I will provide this example: in 1983, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had just won two Super Bowls twice and had quite a run at success had the opportunity drafting with the 25th position, and having to replace the aging Terry Bradshaw, to draft Dan Marino, who after all went to the U of Pittsburgh, and was the draft pick of aging owner Art Rooney. But the Steelers, in maybe their biggest draft mistake ever, picked Gabe Rivera who, two years later, died (I forgot how). Had they gotten Marino, their dynasty likely would have continued. And Don Shula got lucky, and drafted Marino, who helped Miami continue to make the playoffs nearly every year until Marino's retirement (though no Super Bowl wins).

10. Foes' Failure. What has allowed the Patriots and Belichick to continue to dominate their division? Why, failures on the part of their divisional foes, of course! This has also worked (until their "Luck" ran out that is) for the Colts in the very weak AFC South. But nothing lasts forever, and the Pats won't be wonderful forever. Which is why the Jets with Todd Bowles and the Dolphins now with Gase (screw the Bills with Rexy and Rob...they had their chances) must get their HC hires right. When the Pats finally do collapse, one of these teams has a golden opprtunity to take over.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Not One Team is Super Bowl Worthy IMHO

I am going to assume the Pats will be a likely serious contender, but here's the rub...can they do it if Gronk is injured? I was thinking the other day about how well they perform when Gronk is healthe vs. if he plays but is not 100 percent and also if he is out of the game. Fact is when he is out of the game they are as likely to lose as win, and if he only plays some, the same thing...but if he plays the whole game the Pats are much more likely to win.

I have another question about the Pats' future: in 2017 (I think) Brady's contract is up, and, further, Jimmy Garapolo's rookie deal will also be up--but what will they do if Brady hogs the show and Garapolo never gets a chance to show what he can do?

I bring this up because of the very convenient situation in Denver:  Peyton Manning gets injured while not having a very good year...he's 39 after all...and then guess what? His understudy, Brock Osweiler, another apparently good QB from that 2012 draft, after hardly getting a chance at all just so happens to beat the Pats! So that even if he doesn't play that well again for the rest of the year, the Broncos KNOW that this guy can actually replace Manning, who most likely will not be back in Denver (or anywhere else) next year.

Now as much as the Pats need Brady (and esp. Gronk) to start games, are they going to let Garapolo rot on the bench? And is Brady mentoring him? Last I heard, Brady virtually ignored the guy...that is NOT good for the Pats, and is Belichick letting this happen?

On to the Packers, who needed a "Hail Mary" from Rodgers to beat the 4-7 Lions...and they are STILL half a game behind the Vikings. That's right, the Vikings! Having once been a Vikings fan, I will root for them the rest of the year and seem likely to make I like Teddy Bridgewater, who should have been the first QB picked in the 2014 draft, not Bortles.

Though the Panthers are still unbeaten, I just do not see them in the Super Bowl. I do not see the Bengals, either, but am glad Andy Dalton is sticking it to the media, who claimed he sucked. Same goes for Cardinals...has Carson Palmer EVER won a playoff game? And he's much older than Dalton.

The NFC East is a mess, and the really...look like the most likely division winner. Both the Eagles and Cowboys have poor records, and the Giants are meh.

The Colts have recovered somewhat and should win the AFC South. Andrew Luck is pretty much recovered, but now Houston is starting to turn it on (after the Dolphins gave them one helluva wake up call in week 7, going 41-0 at halftime!). I'm going with the Colts. But here is another rub...if the Colts do not win a playoff game, will Pagano be back with them? I read a headline somewhere saying he's quit coaching if he is let go.

I had high hopes for the Raiders who were doing so well early on, but have faltered. And to what extent has the possibility of moving to LA put a huge dent into the Chargers, who are a god-awful 3-8? And what happened to the once-mighty AFC North? The Ravens are 4-7? Really?

Going into week 12 it looks like the most likely teams to make AFC playoffs are Pats, Bengals, Colts, Broncos (not really a surprise there) and the wildcards being (most likely) Steelers and Texans...but of course that can change, and there are still 7 other teams who still have a shot. Only the Browns (2-9), Titans (2-9), and Chargers (3-8) have no shot.

For the NFC, I have no idea who wins the East...I never do, but just based on QB consistency I have to go with the Giants. Sorry Redskins. As good as the Vikes have been, I'm going with the Packers, and the Panthers and Cardinals in the south and west respectively. The Vikes and likely the Seahawks will be the wildcards. But the Skins, Bears, Eagles, Falcons, Bucs, Saints, and Rams still have a shot as well. Need I mention what disaster happened to the 49ers?

But I ask you, reader...are any of these teams that are likely to make the playoffs really worthy of winning the Super Bowl? Folks I am beginning to think things have gotten out of hand to the point where there seems to be a certainty about the game being rigged to be nothing but a circus.

In days gone by, the game actually meant something, and has now been rendered meaningless. The 2007 Patriots were pert-near perfect. What has happened since then? Smoke and mirrors.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why No QB, and More on a Weird 2015 NFL Season

Some teams have great veteran QBs and some have very good veteran QBs that have been good for many years and some have good young QBs who recently got contract extentions and some have very promising young QBs from the last two drafts--these memes cover nearly every single team but a few.

As for the few that do not have any of the above (or maybe they do but as with the Buffalo Bills, which is it? Tyrod Taylor or EJ Manuel? And can Rex Ryan figure that one out after he whiffed on Mark Sanchez?). The Bills aside, the teams that do not have franchise QBs or potential franchise QBs are the usual suspects: the Jets, the Browns, the Texans, the Redskins (will RG3 ever come back to his rookie form?), the Bears, and maybe the Rams (not sure about Nick Foles yet).

The Jets had been doing well with Ryan Fitzpatrick but we all know how this guy tends to flame out...when he was with the Bills, remember how he took the Bills to unreal heights in 2011, then got a 59 million extention, then proceeded to completely fall apart? Now I like Todd Bowles, but is he going to make the same mistake as Chan Gailey did, or as Rexy did in NY by simply relying on defense?

The less said about the Browns, the better. The fact that Brandon Weeden actually looked like a halfway decent QB in Dallas says it all.

I don't get the Texans...why draft an already good position (defensive line and Jadaveon Clowney) when they so much needed a QB and could have had Bridgewater, Bortles, Carr, or even Garolpolo? Or Manziel for that matter...Johnny Football does after all come from Texas. Brian Hoyer is not a bad QB but he is a stop gap at best.

The Redskins problem is its owner, and until they solve that one the Skins will be cellar-dwellers even with a resurgence from RG3. The Bears problem is they can't cut Cutler and they can't trade him either--too high a salary. And can Nick Foles do for the Rams what Bradford could have if he ever stayed healthy?

But all this is obvious. Now let's get to the weird.

I have been AFC for a few weeks and have not really followed the results of the weeks of football the last few weeks, but I do know these:

There are (or were) 5 unbeaten teams--three of them being fairly predictable (Pats, Broncos, and Packers), and two surprises, the Bengals (good for Andy Dalton, who took a beating by the media this off-season), and the Panthers (ditto for Cam Newton, but who did not get the media flack that Dalton did). Four unbeatens this late in the year is not usual, and expect the three predictable ones plus Seattle to be very likely candidates for the Super Bowl L, everyone else is just pretending. Weird. How many years can one say that there are really only four teams that realistically have a shot at the Super Bowl and know which teams these are? We've been brainwashed on the notion of "parity"--folks this is NOT parity!

And notice that one team that was almost universally thought of as a legit Supe contender, the Colts with Andrew Luck, is struggling to win a very weak division! They were 3-4 after week 8! They will win the AFC South, but they will not make the Super Bowl...and why is Andrew Luck struggling anyway? But he is. I suspect that the tension (that the media has hung their hats on) between head coach Pagano and GM Grigson has a lot to do with it. Folks, tensions between GMs or owners and head coaches almost always spell some sort of doom. Just ask the 49ers!

The NFC South has done it again: last year it was perhaps the weakest division and this year, as usual, it has done a complete turnaround with both Falcons and Panthers being strong...and Rob Ryan in Saints-ville looking like he's going to be fired? Funny things happen when a Ryan gets fired or threatened...and I can see him going to the Bucs perhaps?

With the NFC East being in the usual "down to the wire" division title meme, it is weird that the other seven division winners have been pretty much decided already, and only the wild cards remain (and that could be any number of teams...heck the AFC had a slew of them last year). I have my suspicions but I will not name them yet. What is weird is that the Raiders are one of the more likely possibilities, but that's what drafting Derek Carr and hiring Jack Del Rio can do for you.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

About That "Shula Cheated" Post, and Continued Possible Rigging vs. Jets Regarding Belichick's Joining Patriots

Last night I realized it was probably wrong to implicate Don Shula for cheating just because he was the goat in the Jets' Super Bowl III win...basically I implied that Don Shula knew (as Namath must have known with his "guarantee") that the Jets had to win that game or else. Maybe he should have known, but actually did not know anything about it, or knew something but just went with the flow...the "cheating" aspect comes into play when we consider what happened after Shula went to Miami: back-to-back Super Bowl wins (disproving Shula "couldn't win the big one") and that undefeated season. Plus, Shula became a member of the NFL Rules Committee (who helped institute the 2-point-conversion rule, rule changes to combat "pass interference" by defenders thus opening up the passing game...wasn't Shula's Dolphins mostly a running team?...and eventually the switch to a 16-game season). Thing is I have no proof Shula was in on the rigging of Super Bowl III and no proof he went along with it to achieve what he wound up achieving a few years later.

But I still think Shula knew something was, perhaps, a bit fishy. I just don't know what. But anyway...

Yesterday's post explored the implications of the Jets winning Super Bowl III and Namath's "guarantee" of a win. So, Namath won the game against Shula's Colts and then Sonny Werblin sold the Jets to Iselin (who later sold it to Hess, who later sold it to Woody fact the Jets probably have had more different owners than any other NFL team). Did Werblin's so-called "curse" cause the Jets to pretty much suddenly become a crappy team? In 1969 they won the AFL East but it was a weak division (Houston, Boston, Buffalo, and Miami all sucked). They went nowhere in the playoffs, and then the wheels fell off in 1970 after Baltimore--who had lost to the Jets in Supe III--entered the new AFC (as well as Pittsburgh and Cleveland) from the NFL, and Shula, with I am sure revenge on his mind, started building a playoff contender in Miami. The Jets did not make it back to the playoffs until the early 80s, and finally won a post-merger division title in 1986. (Note: they have only won ONE division title since, in 2002!).

But why have the Jets reaped so little after winning that Super Bowl? Every team has good years and bad years, but the Jets have done very little since 1968...two division titles, and about 6 other playoff appearances, mostly in the 1980s, and Rex Ryan getting them to the AFC Champ games in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Bill Parcells at least made them competitive after the awful Kotite era, but he never go them to the playoffs, and then he quit the Jets...and then Belichick signed on to be their head coach--for one day! The Belichick "retired" from the Jets the next day...then he signed with new Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Is this a configuration backed with another conspiracy theory?

Here is a very good article on why Belichick left the Jets for the Patriots. Basically, whether he was happy or not being an assistant to Parcells, BB did not like the situation that existed with the Jets, possibly with an ownership change coming. (Interesting: Parcells, who worked with BB in NY, agreed to become GM of the Dolphins in 2008 during an ownership change from Huizenga to Ross.) In other words, Belichick may have resigned from the Jets due to a perceived instability with that team.) Then the question must be asked: why did he choose the Patriots? Just because the Pats and Jets are division rivals? More money? More power? (I suspect that last item is the best reason...Belichick is de-facto GM of the Patriots as well as head coach).

So one would have to say that Belichick's joining the Patriots after "screwing" the Jets was a set up by Kraft, perhaps, but I look at it this way (and, if you have followed the AFC East for the last umpteen years, this is the way it works in the division...Rex Ryan's firing from the Jets and hiring to the Bills is just another example): Jimmy Johnson and his assistant Wandstedt were in Miami, and the Colts and Bills did not need a new head coach either, but the Pats did, sooo....

But to say that the NFL or the commish working with Kraft was rigging the game against the Jets or for the Patriots is a bit far-fetched...heck you might as well say the NFL rigged the 2000 draft so the Pats were forced to wait until round 6 to get Tom Brady!

So, how, when, and why things were rigged for or against the Jets or for or against the Pats (who were pretty much "meh" until Belichick and Brady came along...of the 15 or so division titles the Pats have, 12 have come under BB and Brady) isn't the only "rigging" that possibly has happened in the NFL.

More questions: why did it take 40 years for the Steelers to make the playoffs? Why did the Colts pretty much suck for 30 years after Johnny Unitas until the landed Peyton Manning (and now have a bit of Luck)? Why have the Browns become the "dumpster fire" they are today and have done almost nothing since the 1960s? Same for the Detriot Lions, Chicago Bears, and a few other teams? Did the NFL rig the Saints to win Super Bowl 44 in 2009-10 to compensate for their misery over Katrina? Why has Peyton Manning only won one Super Bowl when he is such a superior QB? Did Scott Norwood throw the Super Bowl on the Bills against the Giants, and why couldn't the Bills win one during that four year AFC Championship reign? If Belichick "cheated" by taping Rams practices before Super Bowl 36, then why didn't George Allen "cheat" when (as suspected by Don Shula before Super Bowl VII) there were rumors he was taping Dolphin practices? Did Art Modell screw Cleveland, or did Cleveland screw Art Modell? And more questions...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is The NFL Rigged, "Pay to Play" Style? The Implications of Jets Winning Super Bowl III

Hi, "Snorky" here. ""LifeImitatesFootball" has been handling this blog for a couple of years and I am taking it back though he did a good job...he does not want to be doing this anymore after I wrote that letter to him on my other blog which you can read here. In this letter I told him why I cannot root for a particular team and it makes no sense to do so since a fan has no control over what the team does. I do not know if he disagreed with it or agreed with it but he thought I could do a better job on it besides him just posting weekly game picks and some analysis. That is what the so called experts do. But he did agree he would not any longer root for a particular team...he agreed doing that was akin to torturing oneself.

Brian Touhy of The Fix Is In has claimed for years that the NFL is rigged, in particular playoff outcomes and Super Bowls. He's the guy who I first learned from that Super Bowl III between the AFL Jets and NFL Colts was deliberately rigged so the Jets would win: that way, the NFL-AFL merger finalized in the late 60s would appear to be a good deal, that the AFL was not a "weak" league after all (and, if one wasn't convinced by the Jets beating the Colts 16-7, the Chiefs' win over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV sealed the deal....yes, that outcome was likely rigged as well...too bad Bud Grant didn't get compensated for taking the dive the way Don Shula did for taking his dive.

Yes, you read that correct. I just claimed that I believe Don Shula, who coached the team I had rooted for for over 40 years, the Miami Dolphins, deliberately took a dive in order to get greatly rewarded a few years later, with the NFLs only undefeated season and back to back Super Bowl wins to boot, AND pert near perennial playoff status and only two losing seasons since then until he finally retired in 1995. But there are consequences for allowing the game to be rigged in your favor (sorry if this sounds like Hunger Games): since Shula's retirement the Dolphins have been mostly mediocre and sometimes a flat-out joke,, and when I realized they deserved it, I could no longer root for this team--this happened in 2010 and was confirmed in 2011. Further, they had Dan Marino, one of the greatest QB s ever, and another HOFer in Bob Griese...since most teams only have one or two great QBs (the Packers for some outlier reason have had 3...Starr, Favre, and Rodgers; but the Packers are truly a different kind of team, owned by the people of Green Bay, not some corporate billionaire. The Colts may also have had three if Luck gets resigned by that team) it is unlikely Tannehill will join them. Thus, it isn't that the Dolphins are mediocre that I have stopped rooting for them over the past couple of years, it is that Don Shula, who has called Bill Belichick "Beli-cheat", is possibly a cheater himself! And I will not support cheaters and the "greatness" of said possible cheaters. Now this is speculation since I do not have access to NFL league office records, and perhaps all this conspiracy is a word-of-mouth agreement, but there has to be a reason why Namath "guaranteed" a Jets win--he was in on it as well--and why Shula was allowed to go undefeated WITH AN INJURED STARTING QB and winning with the very same back up QB, Earl Morrall, who lost Super Bowl III! (Note: and as payback for losing Super Bowl VII to the Dolphins, the Redskins got to beat them in Super Bowl XVII, ten years later.)

Like I said I cannot verify any of this rigging and this does sound like conspiracy theory. But here is a fact that makes this situation more than just theorizing conspiracy: Joe Namath GUARANTEED a win over a one-loss team in a stronger league in Super Bowl III. Now folks, how does one GUARANTEE a win unless one knows the outcome?

Namath must have known that things would be set up to allow for a very strong possibility that the Jets would win a game in which they were nearly 20 point underdogs. There was a lot of doubt in the late 60s that the AFL-NFL merger which would come about in 1970 would work out with both leagues being considered reasonably equal, so appearances had to be created. But why the Jets? Maybe the fact that they play in New York had something to do with it, but I don't think the Jets were "picked" to win the AFL to accomplish this, they won the AFL on their own...but it sure was nice to have an ego-maniac QB like Namath to make the guarantee!

So, the Jets win, Namath's "guarantee" works out, the Colts lose and Shula is now in trouble in Baltimore...supposedly owner Carroll Rosenbloom was pissed at Shula for losing Supe III and rumors abounded during the 1969 Colts' season that Shula would be dumped (the Colts went 9-5 that year, not exactly powerful). Now, Shula was not dumped by the Colts after the 1969 season, but clearly Shula had a feeling he could be. Now, how Dolphins owner Joe Robbie got the feelers to go after Shula before Shula was fired/not rehired I do not know, but after Shula signed to coach in Miami Rosenbloom (after the 1970 draft) got the NFL and Commissioner Pete Rozell to file tampering charges on the Dolphins, who then gave up a first-round draft pick in 1971 to the Colts. And wouldn't you know it, but the Colts won Super Bowl V against the Cowboys as compensation for losing Supe III (while Dallas won Super Bowl VI as compensation over Miami, who'd win big the next coupke of years as compensation).

So there are two implications of the Jets winning Super Bowl III: the Colts winning Supe V and Shula winning VII and VIII and going undefeated.

But there was a downside for the Jets, some of which has implications for a division rival, the New England Patriots, that I will cover next time.