Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Favre Practices, Looks Good

December 6, 2007

This comes from Tom Silverstein’s Thursday practice report. Favre “threw a lot in the early drills, although he never really let one snap. He didn’t appear to have any problem gripping the ball or throwing a spiral.”

Favre also said yesterday that he didn’t anticipate having any trouble playing on Sunday. Fortunately, for the Packers, their opponent is Oakland, which has one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. It’s important for the Packers not to look past this game — a potential since their last game, against Dallas, received so much hype. Oakland has won two weeks in a row and their offense, particularly journeyman Justin Fargas, has looked decent.

Still, it makes sense for the Packers offensive gameplan to include lots of Ryan Grant. This serves two purposes. First, it should help win the game, since the Raiders struggle so mightily against the run. But second, it will also reinforce to future oppoents what should already be clear: the Packers can run the ball. Grant has had strong games against three teams who ranked in the NFL’s top 10 rushing defenses when the Packers played them (Minnesota, Detroit and Dallas).

Keepin’ It Real Thursday: Going for the Juggler?

December 6, 2007

As we announced last week, every Thursday is what we call “Keepin’ It Real Thursday.” It’s a tip of our hat to the Dallas Cowboy wide receivers, who we will almost certainly see later this year.

This is from Dallascowboys.com:

Every Thursday is confidential “Keep It Real Thursday” at Valley Ranch, where the receivers spend five or 10 minutes airing anything that’s on their minds. “You can’t forget we’re people, too,” rookie Isaiah Stanback said.

So here’s what is on my mind today. As I was driving around Iowa last night, I tuned in to Sirius NFL Radio’s “Late Hits” with Bryan McGovern and Jerry Rice. Now, it is surely the case that Jerry Rice is one of the greatest players in the history of professional sports. He is not, however, one of the greatest commentators in the history of broadcasting. ESPN’s Emmitt Smith has gotten lots of grief for his mangling of the English language this year and he deserves it. Same with Bryant Gumbel with the NFLN. (I won’t be able to hear the game tonight, so please email with any good Gumbelism’s.) And we’ve been very critical of the moron that is Brian Baldinger.

Nobody keeps track of all of this stuff than the guys at Awful Announcing. (From whom I learned that Packer fans will not have to put up with Baldinger again this Sunday. Thank God.)

Anyway, Jerry Rice is special. He repeatedly referred last night to the “linemens” who protect the quarterback and made several similar verbal gaffes. But what really got me was his inexplicable animus toward the most benign entertainers in the world: Jugglers. I mean, these are guys who generally just throw balls in the air in a rotating fashion with a dopey look on their faces. If they’re really good, they use knives, or torches. I saw one guy juggle chainsaws. Cool.

Check this out. These guys drink Pabst.

Do you see these guys hurting anyone? No. And yet all night long Jerry Rice kept telling the NFL players he was interviewing — in some cases 300-pound linemens — to “go for the juggler.”

Why Jerry? What did the jugglers ever do to you? Don’t be hatin.

More Favre for MVP?

December 6, 2007

JS Online’s Rick Klauer points us to an article by CBS Sportsline’s Clark Judge on the NFL MVP. Judge puts Favre in the discussion. He starts his article by writing: “Tom Brady wins, and he wins in a landslide.”

Then he gets to Favre.

All I heard this summer is how the guy should retire. Well, thank goodness he listened to himself and not radio talk. All he has done is put the Packers back on the map. They’re one of the two best teams in the NFC and one of the top four in football, and it’s no coincidence that in the one game he was hurt the Pack lost. Anyway, you can’t watch Green Bay this season and not marvel at Favre. It’s not just his energy that’s so appealing; it’s his ability to dial up big plays on command, like that 82-yard bomb on the first play of overtime in Denver. So what’s new? He has five touchdown passes of 40 or more yards this season, the third best performance of his career. So Favre is getting older. He’s getting better, too. The guy is on schedule to set single-season highs in completions, yards, passer rating and completion percentage. More important, he has the Packers on top of their division and set for a drive deep into the playoffs. Valuable? No. He’s invaluable.

I agree with all of this, except for his claim that it was no coincidence that the Packers lost the only game Favre did not finish. Did he watch that game? Favre was awful. Lord knows I will always prefer Favre to Aaron Rodgers, but Favre was (going from memory) 5 for 14 with two picks and a QB rating of 8.9 when he left. Aaron Rodgers was fantastic. We lost the Cowboys game for many reasons, but losing Favre in the game was not one of them.

There’s no question that Brady should win the award unanimously.

Profootballtalk.com: Favre for MVP?

December 5, 2007

I have my problems with the guys at profootballtalk.com, the widely-read NFL gossip site. They irresponsibly suggested that Al Harris may have tried to injure Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson to collect on a so-called “bounty.” (In fact, Harris would have been the one to pay the “bounty.”)

But their take on Favre is worth noting. If memory serves, these guys were among the loudest voices in the “Favre Should Retire” brigade last winter/spring.

In a year that started with the media’s face stapled to Peyton Manning’s rear end and is ending with the media nuzzling Tom Brady’s baby-making equipment, veteran quarterback Brett Favre has swooped in and swiped the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award. Favre never achieved this honor during any of his three MVP seasons. And he’s only the fourth quarterback to take home the hardware — if the prize actually entails any. The other winners were Terry Bradshaw (with Willie Stargell) in 1979, Joe Montana in 1990, and Tom Brady in 2005. With the Patriots suddenly not as dominant as they recently were, Favre could be seriously in the running for his fourth league MVP trophy.

Response to crack smoking accusation

December 5, 2007

To the untrained eye, Steve’s response to my Tarvaris Jackson warning may have seemed critical or “mocking” as he prefers. But my interpretation is that he is actually fighting himself right now not to agree with me. His comment that Tarvaris doesn’t “completely suck” may have seemed like a non-comment to most, but considering how many times Steve has bashed Tarvaris and overstated his poor quality, not “completely sucking” from Steve is a verbal step up from being “horrible”, the “worst QB in the NFL”, “just another one of your lame mancrushes” etc. Now, I think it’s fair we give Tarvaris until the end of the season to prove he’s got some game, but if he does that, Steve will need to hold himself accountable for his position that Tarvaris is not quality.

Smoking Crack Again

December 5, 2007

I can certainly understand the impulse to crow about Tarvaris Jackson. Brother Andy has been wrong with so many of his previous mancrushes that it must be really exciting to finally have hit on someone who doesn’t completely suck.

But let’s not get carried away. T-Jack has had a couple of decent games. Nothing outstanding, but not bad, either. But two games does not a career make. And you’re right, he is protected by one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and has what must be considered the most dangerous running game in the league right now. So defenses have to game-plan to stop Adrian Peterson (i.e. put 34 in the box) and they’re willing to let T-Jack take his shots. Add to all of that the quality of the Minnesota defense/special teams and the fact that those units are sometimes outscoring the offense, and it seems obvious that it’s way too early to be talking Jackson as a quality, long-term NFL quarterback.

I do, however, agree with your broader point: The Vikings have the makings of a very good team. I think their two young WRs that can catch the ball (a group that obviously doesn’t include Troy Williamson) will be dangerous. Sidney Rice has flashed over the course of the year and Aundrae Allison showed his natural abilities on the 103-yard kickoff return on Sunday. Oh yeah, and Adrian Peterson.

Still, it’s hard not to like the Packers as the dominant team in the NFC North for several years. We are, after all, the youngest team in the NFL — a distinction we somehow have managed to earn two years in a row despite the presence of Brett Favre and Rob Davis on the roster.

One clarification: I never criticized you for your man-crushes, I mocked you.

Week 13 Spread Picks

November 30, 2007

Preface to this week’s picks: I think this is one of the more difficult weeks for picks that I can remember. Lots of evenly matched teams and strong cases could be made for going either way in a lot of these games. That’s really a disclaimer for possibly getting lots of these games wrong.

GB @ Dallas (-6.5) – I think this spread should be motivation for the Packers. Not sure what Dallas has done this year to deserve this spread (beating up on poor teams). I know Dallas isn’t Favre’s favorite place, but then again, not sure anyone likes it. It’s a ridiculous stadium housing fans who have ridiculous accents. The Pack should come focused and prepared and unless Marion Barber goes nuts, should come away with a win here. Also, look for Romo to try to emulate his hero Favre by trying to make something happen, but not realizing he isn’t as talented resulting in a few costly turnovers (especially when scrambling).

SD @ KC (+4.5) I’ll take San Diego again simply because they just can’t continue to lose games they should win with some of the talent they have. Despite Norv, they should be able to win this game. Norv belongs with Romeo in the questionable name category.

DET @ MN (-3.5) Tarvaris Jackson’s greatness in this game will be noted, but pale in comparison to a monster game from Kitna. But brother Steve and the rest of the NFL will realize after this game why Jackson is the right man in MN.

ATL @ STL (-4.5) Now, I am assuming Bulger is playing. Talking about a loser face – Frerotte defines loser. I remember when he was mysteriously starting for the Redskins a few years ago and banged his head against the wall after a game and got a concussion. Anything more need to be written?

JAX @ INDY (-7.5) This spread is too high. I go back and forth though: will Jax running game help keep Manning off the field, or will Indy’s offense score too quickly and make Jax pass which they don’t do as well? You know, sometimes watching Manning at the line of scrimmage, reminds me of that person you know with major anxiety issues or that child who can’t sit still. It’s quite annoying.

SEA @ PHIL (-2.5) Philly may take this one on a last second field goal. To me, this might be one of the most boring games out there for some reason. Just tired of watching Seattle and Philly.

HOU @ TN (-3.5) This game will be 100% coaching. How can a team get smoked 35-6 and then come back and route a decent team in Houston? Coaching.

NYJ @ MIA (-1.5) The Jets have to feel horrible as the dogs to an atriumphant team, as it were (what is the opposite of undefeated anyway, like Miami’s 0-11 record? I was going to say “totally defeated”, but there should be a word for this. How about redefeated?). This will be the John Beck show as Clemons proves further he has zero future.

SF @ CAR (-2.5) Rich Campbell will be starting for Carolina this week. This is my least confident pick because I’d written SF off and was sure AZ would destroy them last week but SF won. I was sure CAR would get destroyed last week and they did. So why pick Carolina? Because it would be just mean to their fans to go redefeated at home.

BUFF @ WASH (-5.5) I really feel badly for Washington and Taylor’s family. I really do. He had 2 picks against Green Bay earlier this year (could have had 4) and I really think the NFL will miss one of the premier talents in the league. Sad, just sad.

DEN @ OAK (+3.5) Not sure a team can rebound from the worst special teams coaching/kicking/punting performance of all time (Den last week vs Chi). But considering how weak that division is, Shanahan should be able to motivate.

CLEVE @ AZ (-1.5) How does AZ lose to SF last week when Warner throws for 484 yards. Nice. Now AZ has to play without one of their best players in Adrian Wilson. Cleveland is riding the momentum of playoff talk. Everything points to the Cleve, but for some reason, I’ll go with a semi-meth pick here: AZ. (A reader recommended meth pick vs crack pick – makes sense and illustrates how out of touch I am with modern-day drug use).

TB @ NO (-2.5) Just think, back in the good ole days, the entire TB team would have gone out on Bourbon Street and gotten hammered the Saturday night before the game to “build team chemistry”. Now they’ll sit in swank a hotel room getting pedicures. Wusses.

NYG @ CHI (+1.5) Crack pick – Chicago in a blowout. The wheels will fall off in this one and we’ll all be rewarded by getting to see a Giants team in turmoil again. The lowly Bears will put together an uncharacteristic performance and handle the Giants. Other Giants will begin to show loser faces of their own following Eli’s lead.

CINCY @ PITT (-8.5) This game may end tied 0-0 if the field is still in such crappy condition. But my real reason for taking Cincy is that it’s apparently harder for D-backs to keep their footing on crappy fields that receivers – Cincy will throw all night.

NE @ BALT (+20.5) Another ridiculous spread, but not surprising considering Balt may have one of the league most pathetic offenses. However, it will likely be fairly cold and I don’t think NE’s passing machine will continue in cold weather – they are due for a loss or 2 in the next few weeks.

Explaining the Refs from Last Night’s Game

November 30, 2007

John Parry, meet Leslie Nielsen (as Lt. Frank Drebin). John Parry was last night’s referee.

Here is the scene that gave birth to Brother Andy’s “Leslie Nielsen Theory of Officiating,” discussed here.

Two Game-Changing Calls

November 30, 2007

For the record, I don’t think the Packers played well enough to win this game. But the officiating was horrendous. Here is a sampling of opinion on two key calls.

On Al Harris strip of Terrell Owens:

Greg Rosenthal, Rotoworld.com: “Al Harris, one of the quietest guys in the NFL, gets a delay of game penalty after spiking the ball. He stole a catch from T.O., but the ref called it dead because of forward progress. Tough call for Green Bay…”

Greg Bedard, JS Online: “Not sure what the officials saw but it sure looked like Harris had an INT.”

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: “Dallas matinee idol, Tony Romo, the transplanted Cheesehead, completed his first pass of the night to Owens, a 12-yard out. But he appeared to have lost the ball to Harris before stepping out of bounds. Harris was convinced that he had possession, but nobody else saw it that way and Harris wound up getting penalized for delay of game. That could have been huge since the Packers were already leading 3-0 and the turnover (that wasn’t) would have given them the ball at midfield.”

Drew Olsen, Onmilwaukee.com: “As was often the case back in the ’90s, the key calls went against Green Bay. Al Harris did strip the ball from Terrell Owens on the Cowboys’ first drive, but the refs had blown the whistle.”

On the Tramon Williams pass interference call:

Greg Rosenthal, Rotoworld.com: “The [pass interference call] on this drive looks shaky in retrospect.”

Greg Bedard, JS Online: There was a “ridiculous 42-yard pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams. Anybody could see that the receiver slowed down there. Well, I guess not everybody.”

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: “There were some other comical moments with this officiating crew, which included a questionable pass interference call on Tramon Williams, who got tangled up with Cowboys receiver Miles Austin. That looked like incidental contact, although you could make a case for Williams putting his right hand on Austin before they crossed paths and feet. Williams tripped Austin but the official closest to the play didn’t throw the flag. It was a delayed call and it was the equivalent of a 42-yard penalty on Green Bay. Three plays later, the Cowboys expanded their lead from 27-24 to 34-24.”

Drew Olsen, Onmilwaukee.com: “The key play of the game was a 42-yard pass interference call on Tramon Williams, who didn’t appear to impede Patrick Clayton. It was dicey at best.”

MJD at AOL’s Fanhouse: “I enjoyed the work of Cris Collinsworth last night. He’s pretty damn good as a game analyst. Especially with this point: after the officials incorrectly called Packer DB Tramon Williams for pass interference, Collinsworth suggested that these long interference calls be subject to replay, and that’s a fantastic idea… Maybe the biggest play in the game last night was that 42-yard pass interference call that was two things: 1) huge, and 2) horse(doo-doo).”

Wire reporter Todd Archer also thought the call was iffy: “Using Jason Witten for 37 yards on three catches and a questionable pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams, who tripped up Miles Austin, the Cowboys were at the Green Bay 5. Three plays later Romo whipped his second scoring throw of the game to Patrick Crayton, giving the Cowboys a 34-24 lead.”

Even Texas writers saw the Williams call for what it was. Tyler Smith, Herald-Democrat: “Dallas was aided by a questionable pass-interference penalty called against Tramon Williams that set the Cowboys up at the 5-yard line.”

But in the interest of balance, we include this, from Tom Pelissaro, with Packersnews.com: “The flag against Williams came really late, but it was correct. Williams actually had good position but, like many young players, didn’t trust his position and decided to grab Miles Austin instead. Though Austin probably couldn’t have caught the ball — and Williams did little to slow the receiver — the interference came early enough the officials weren’t going to declare the pass uncatchable. It’s borderline, but it’s going to be called nine times out of 10.”

Tramon Williams Subscribes to the Leslie Nielsen Theory of NFL Refs

November 30, 2007

Recall Brother Andy’s “Leslie Nielsen Theory of NFL Refs.” We laid it out this way in a post earlier this year:

Andy has a theory about NFL officiating. And once you hear it, I think it becomes hard to watch games without thinking it is true.

He says NFL refs are like Leslie Nielsen as the umpire in Naked Gun: They make calls that will generate applause from the home crowds. Someone who has more time than I do should look it up. Do home teams get more calls than away teams? I would guess that they do.

Then we got some scientific backing with this post, citing a Jason Wilde report.

“According to research done by The Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin, NFL officials have been harsher on the road teams than the home teams each of the past nine weeks, assessing more penalties for more yards to the visitors.”

Well, it seems that Tramon Williams is now a believer in the Nielsen Theory.

Here is Tramon Williams on the crucial — and very questionable — 40-yard pass interference call. “Our legs got tangled up, but they’re the home team, so there ain’t much I can say about it.”

Keepin’ it Real, even though it’s not Thursday. You have to love Tramon Williams.


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