Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 2 Hot and Not

It’s time for what’s hot and what’s not from week two in football and if I had to describe it in one word…surprising. First of all the Titans are 0-2, Tom Brady didn’t throw for a single touchdown and the 49ers are 2-0. Wow. I don’t know what’s happened in the past week but the football gods are looking to make this season interesting. Now to the list.
The New Orleans Saints are what’s hot in the NFL right now. Drew Brees has thrown for 669 yards, nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. His quarterback rating is a measly 132.9 and the Saints are2-0. Not to mention they are averaging 46.5 points per game right now. Oh and the Saints play the Bills this week so look for the Saints to keep producing. Currently, the Saints defense is mediocre at best but it doesn’t matter when they score 40 points or more. Kudos to you New Orleans, you are hot right now. Watch out for the hubris though because with the winter you may get cold as well.
Matt Schaub had an amazing game this week. He went 25 of 39 for 357 yards and four touchdowns. The Texans running game was stagnant running for a total of 63 yards on 29 carries but Schaub really helped keep the team competitive in the game. It’s just funny because Schaub will probably throw three picks and no touchdowns next week. He’s too hot and cold for me, but good job this week boss.
Chris Johnson…wow, if it weren’t for the guy in the next paragraph you would definitely be the player of the week. Johnson had three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) for 284 total yards from scrimmage. His 91 yard scamper was disgusting. He made two moves that were ankle breaking and was off to the races after. His 87 receiving yards on nine catches lead the team but that number is skewed because of his 69 yard touchdown catch. On the play, he was completely uncovered which is just typical Texans but I digress. Johnson had a great day even in a loss. The only thing he could have done more was to cover Andre Johnson because no one on the Titans seemed to care about him.

Usain Bolt would have been impressed by the running prowess of Frank Gore this weekend. On 16 carries, Gore had 207 yards for two touchdowns (12.9 ypc). His two touchdowns were from 79 and 80 yards out. Gore tore through the Seahawks defense like it was Madden. He was the most dominant player on the field this weekend and could not be touched. The Seahawks had eight and nine men in the box on the two long touchdown runs and the Niners offensive line just followed their assignments to let Gore do what he does best…embarrass defenses. Even though Chris Johnson had a solid game, the Titans still lost. That’s why I have to give Gore bragging rights for this week as best offensive player in the NFL.
Now it’s on to the more fun part of writing about NFL players, the scrubs. There were several players this week that were just plain garbage and I was shocked. First of all, let’s talk about Terrible Tom Brady.
Tom Brady went 23 of 47 on Sunday for 216 yards and no touchdowns. For the talent that Brady has on offense this is just humiliating. I know Rex Ryan is crazy good at being a defensive coach, but the Patriots have more talent than the three field goals they scored. Brady may have a lot on his mind (see but he’s always performed under pressure. Terrific Tom was Terribly Troubled on Sunday. Don’t expect him to stay in this funk though. It was one week, and the Patriots play the Falcons who have allowed nearly 230 yards passing in two games this season. Tom I’m not professional but I’m pretty sure you should hit Moss more, and tell Wes Welker to get healthy. NEXT!
Going from great to ghastly in the matter of a week is Tony Romo. Against Tampa Bay in week one Romo was incredible throwing for 353 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Week two was not as kind when Romo threw for fewer yards than Frank Gore had on two runs (127 yards) and had one touchdown to three interceptions. I’m surprised the Cowboys were still in the game after his performance. Not only was Romo’s completion percentage below 50 percent, but his longest completion was 26 yards. Marion Barber had a longer rush from scrimmage than the longest reception by Romo (Barber also caught the 26 yard reception for those keeping score). Seriously though, if it weren’t for the running game by the Cowboys they would be in bad shape. Barber and Felix Jones had 220 yards between them for two touchdowns. Barber nearly had more yards rushing than Romo had passing. Either way, Romo is going to be under the spot light all season until he gets the chance to possibly (if they make it) win a playoff game. But all I have to say to that is….
Last and the very least of the NFL, the Cleveland Browns. The Browns outgained by 249 yards by the Broncos and only had 11 first downs. Brady Quinn had no touchdowns and one interception, Jamal Lewis (it’s pretty embarrassing he’s their number one) had 38 yards on 14 carries, and the defense had no sacks and only hit the quarterback three times. I can’t wait for Braylon Edwards’ contract to run out so he can actually play professional football. The talent they have at wide receiver is going to complete waste and the only chance the Browns have of scoring is when Edwards or Josh Cribbs has his hands on the ball.
Well I can’t wait for this weekend in football. I mean I’m still going to miss most of Sunday’s games because CVS Pharmacy ruins my life. But games I’m excited for this week include Michael Vick’s return in Philadelphia against the Chiefs, Drew Brees vs. the Bills, and the Titans against Rex Ryan’s defense in the Meadowlands. It should be pretty good. Until next time…
Photo Credits: Drew Brees (AP Photo/Michael Perez),Chris Johnson (AP Photo/Wade Payne), Frank Gore (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez), Tom Brady (AP Photo/Kathy Willens), Brady Quinn (AP Photo/ David Zalubowski)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Phillies Playoff Bound? Not So Fast.

I guess one way to solve the Phillies bullpen woes is to have their starters go the distance, which is just what Cliff Lee did last night. For the first time in a Phillies uniform, Lee had a complete game shutout and his third complete game for the Phillies.
Hopefully, Lee is out of that funk he’s been in for his past three starts where he had two losses and an ERA of 5.33. The Phillies need Lee to be on top of his game in order for them to have a chance in the playoffs. While they are seven games up in the east, I can’t help but mention the Mets blowing a seven game lead with 17 games left in 2007.
Everyone in Philadelphia remembers it because it was awesome but with 19 games left and the Phillies bullpen hurting, it feels too eerie that something could go wrong. However, after Lee’s performance last night it let me breathe a sigh of relief. Not to mention Lee is getting more run support lately (the Phillies scored a combined one run in the two losses against the Astros and Braves).
But with the Phillies bats are beginning to awaken as we enter the fall. Carlos Ruiz is batting .340 since August and playing his position well. Last night he backed up an overthrow to first and nailed the runner at second.
Ryan Howard has cooled down since his hot streak at the end of August but expect him to get better as the weather gets cooler. During the past three seasons, Howard has had an average just under 20 homeruns in August and September and no less than 50 RBI’s. So with 19 games left and 12 homeruns thus far, expect Howard to get a few jacks in the last couple home stands.
With 19 games left and series’ against Atlanta, Milwaukee, Houston, and Florida twice, it’s going to be tough for the Phillies to get back into playoffs. Houston swept the Phillies during their last series and the Marlins are going to be vying for a playoff spot. And since the starters are doing well, it’s time for the bullpen (mostly Brad Lidge) to get back into shape for this last haul of the season.
Photo Credit: (Matt Slocum/AP)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NFL Week 1 What's Hot/What's Not

This first week of professional tackle football was outstanding. It’s so great to see actual competition again. Plus, there have been a few good games within the first week. Buffalo and Oakland played well even though they lost, and the Eagles defense looked better than ever (got me 35 points in fantasy…crazy I know). But let’s single out some boom and busts from this week.
Wide Receiver Roy Williams from Dallas really surprised me. He usually is slow and generally over rated, but against Tampa Bay on Sunday Williams had three catches for 86 yards and one touchdown. Plus he presented a threat which allowed Tony Romo to throw for 353 yards, three touchdowns with a 140.6 quarterback rating. That’s pretty nasty in the anti-T.O. era in Dallas.
Even better was Patrick Crayton of the Cowboys. He had 49 more yards than Williams with 135 and 1 touchdown. The two big plays the Cowboys had were made by the receivers. First, Williams ran through a seam and had to get through traffic to get into the end zone. Good thing Williams worked out this off season (for the first time according to him) because the extra muscle might help him over the middle this season. No alligator arms.
Patrick Crayton’s route was helped by the corner and safety from the Bucs jumping Jason Witten’s route. Witten commands so much respect that even a great running game couldn’t earn. When Witten is five to ten yards down field, it keeps the defensive backfield as honest as if Marion Barber had over 100 yards.
The Cowboys really shocked me with their receivers and I think they are finally back in the NFC East race after a lackluster last season. But with the quality of teams in the east, it’s still going to be difficult for the Cowboys to make the playoffs.

Another person who surprised me was Cadillac Williams. He had 97 yards on 13 carries…7.5 yards per carry for those who don’t have a calculator nearby. That is absolutely disgusting for someone who, over the last two years, has suffered from two…count ‘em...two torn patellar tendons. Doctor’s said Cadillac may not have ever played football again after his first tear. Now he’s back and better than ever.
Even though he scored only one touchdown in a loss, which was mostly dominated by the Cowboys passing game, Cadillac finally looks to be back into his rookie form, but don’t expect him to get a lot of carries. He is, after all is said and done, injury prone and could buckle at any moment. But congrats Mr. Caddy, you looked fantastic.
The Eagles defense looked outstanding. Under new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, the Eagles look as if Jim Johnson hasn’t passed on. They flew around the field all day and Sheldon Brown had two picks…of the five the team had as a whole…wow. They were all over the place not just during the passing game but running as well.
They allowed a total of 169 yards of total offense and allowed only 10 points, not to mention they had a punt return for a touchdown. And the small defensive line and linebackers many were worried about in the offseason had five sacks. They were an all around defense that could do no wrong but let’s see how they do against a more potent offense like New Orleans this week…
As for the busts, what about Jake Delhomme? In the last two games he’s played (including last season’s playoff game) he’s been a combined 24 of 51 with nine interceptions and one touchdown, and in the offseason the Panthers signed him to a five-year $42.5 million contract extension…good work guys.
Dear Carson Palmer, I hate you. Palmer has been so disappointing since his one outstanding season where he hurt his knee. Chad Ochocinco had a pretty good offseason and I had high hopes for the Bengals this season. Palmer’s 247 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions are not going to do it for them though.
Don’t get me wrong, Cedric Benson had a decent game and carried the team on his shoulders but when it comes down to it, the seven points they scored is laughable at the amount of talent they possess. They have the potential to score like Indy or New England but it all comes down to how Palmer plays and this week it was poor.

Oh the Texans, you are even more disappointing than the Bengals. Steve Slaton is one of the hottest young running backs right now and Andre Johnson is one freak of a wide receiver. But it all comes down to former Vick back up Matt Schaub. His 18 of 33 was good enough for seventh worse in completion percentage of the first week and he was fifth worst in quarterback rating at 55.9.
I’m going to give Schaub a get out of jail free card (wish you had one of those don’t you Pacman Jones) because Rex Ryan is a defensive mastermind that could have changed the Jets for the better. But Schaub is a professional quarterback and should be doing better than this. Steve Slaton also has to produce more than 17 yards on nine carries.
So the blame this week isn’t going to go on either of those two players, but to the Texans offensive line. Schaub was hit eight times and Slaton’s total yards were embarrassing. Hopefully they can improve upon the 32 sacks they gave up last year but right now they are right on pace for it after giving up two on Sunday. If Schaub gets hit, he will not do well and may be taken out for the former Detroit and Chicago greats, Dan Orlovsky or Rex Grossman. Good luck.
As for this week, I am pumped to see the Saints vs. the Eagles to see who will fail first between the Eagles defense and the Saints offense. Also, the Patriots are heading to the Meadowlands to play the Jets which should be a good game if the Jets defense can be as stout as they were this past weekend. And to be quite honest I’m just pumped it’s football season again and it’s the first time I’ve had a football season sans John Madden. Life is good.
Photo Credits: Roy Williams Salute (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay), Cadillac Williams (AP Photo/Brian Blanco), Asante Samuels/Akeem Jordan (AP Photo/Nell Redmond),Carson Palmer (AP Photo/Ed Reinke), Schaub Sack(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Woe is Lidge

A year removed from his perfect season, Brad Lidge has reverted to his former Houston self.
Lidge gave up a leadoff single to Wil Nieves then Alberto Gonzalez recorded a ground out to third. Gonzalez was nearly safe after an errant throw by Pedro Feliz but Ryan Howard made the catch and applied the tag to relieve a little pressure from Lidge.
But, Nieves was on second with one out. So, as a great closer should do, Lidge hit Willie Harris with a pitch and walked Cristian Guzman. All of Philadelphia collectively held its breath for the umpteenth time this season.
Until Charlie Manuel had enough and walked out to the mound took the ball from Lidge and called for Ryan Madson from the bullpen...finally. Luckily, Madson got out of the jam with a strikeout and groundout but the bases loaded predicament should have never been an issue.
Now I know last year was epic. Only the Lord saved more than Lidge (sorry Bernie Parent). It would be unjust for anyone to expect Lidge to perform at the same level as he did last year. But Lidge has 10 blown saves this year (which should be 11 if it weren’t for Madson saving him last night). It’s just too many for a team to make another World Series run.
The only thing epic about this season is Lidge may beat the single season blown save record of 14 held by Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Bob Stanley and Ron Davis. With 26 games remaining, Lidge could definitely vie for the record.
Lidge has appeared in 58 games this season. Upon his first blown save of the season he received a standing ovation. Fans may wish they could take it back after seeing Lidge blow nine other games this season. To think, the Phillies could be 13 games up in the East right now if it weren’t for Lidge’s seven losses. 13 GAMES! It would make the Phillies the top team in the National League and second in the majors only to New York (the Yankees not the Mets…do I really have to remind you?).
After the game last night, Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said [on taking Lidge out in the ninth], “Winning the game is what it's all about - that's baseball and that's why I manage and that's what comes first.”
It’s great to see Manuel is being a manager rather than a friend. During the past nine blown saves, Lidge was like a sitting duck and opposing teams took advantage.
Some blame Lidge’s knee for his recent woes. I believe it’s more mental than anything for the guy. He did the same thing in Houston. After a career high 42 saves in 2005, Lidge returned in 2006 with six blown saves then in 2007 with eight blown saves. This year he leads the league in blown saves and the league average is roughly four.
Whether his right knee is completely healed or not, we’ll never really know. But before October hits the Phillies need to figure out who they’re going to use in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line.

Photo Courtesy:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Michael Vick Era

Since the media has stopped giving Michael Vick Michael Jackson style attention how’s about we talk about his football skills. Shall we? Screw all of the dog fighting bologna. It was wrong, he did his time let’s move past it.
The Eagles made a very smart move signing Michael Vick. First of all, they signed him to a one year contract with a second year option. This means if Vick doesn’t play well this year, Vick’s second year option doesn’t get picked up. His salary for this season is just over $1.5 million which sounds more impressive than it is, seeing as Shawn Andrews is making over $5 million this year and could quite possibly not play a snap.
And what if Vick does well? Then the Eagles will have leverage in the trade market in the offseason. The Eagles could then trade Vick somewhere like San Francisco, which is having quarterback troubles this year. In return the Eagles could get their first round pick and possibly more. Maybe Vernon Davis or someone from their defensive line wouldn’t be too shabby on top of the first round pick. And who expects the 49ers to do much this year as it is. There pick would definitely be in the top 10.
And if worse comes to worse, the Eagles allow the second year option and give him just over $5 million. Don’t get me wrong, five million dollars is a lot of money, but when it comes to football it’s just not too outlandish. The Eagles are a smart organization too. They do not just sign big name guys to get fans in the seats. They sign and release players when they know they need to. They cut Jeremiah Trotter and when he played for the Redskins he did not produce. So the Eagles signed him for significantly less than what he would have been paid had he stayed in Philadelphia. The Eagles could have just as easily not signed Michael Vick this season and thrown Vick’s money towards Brian Dawkins. However, the team must see something more in Quintin Mikell for the money he is making.
Now who is to say Michael Vick will fail? I know he hasn’t played football in two years but the man is only 29 and he ran for over a thousand yards in his last season. The best thing for him is the suspension Roger Goodell has placed on him. If Vick is on the bench until week six, then he will be back just in time to help a tired and weary Eagles team since their bye week is so early this season. Vick could be a part of the team for a 12 game season and help the Eagles push past their arch nemesis… the dreaded NFC Championship game.
And how are the Eagles going to use Vick? Personally, I think the idea of having Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick on the field at the same time is frightening. There is so much Andy Reid can do with this offense…it’s just plain scary. Think of a backfield with McNabb under center, Vick at tailback and Westbrook and Jackson as receivers. McNabb can drop back and use Vick as a safety valve “if” Westbrook or Jackson can’t get open, pitch to Vick and give him a run/pass option, or simply use Vick as a decoy and run a play action pass to him to free up Jackson down-field. Seriously, the possibilities are endless with Vick in the offense. Think about how well Miami did with the wildcat…and they had little to no talent. Ronnie Brown was good but Chad Rag Arm Pennington was their quarterback for Christ’s sake. So multiply the Dolphins success rate by number 5 and you’ll get the best team in the NFC…the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So you have the first pick in your fantasy football draft this year? What are you going to do with it champ? The obvious pick of Adrian Peterson comes to mind but it’s easy to pick AP when you’re the first pick. Let’s divulge into the middle of the order when the fantasy magazines you’ve been reading have failed you.
Running backs are huge in fantasy football because you generally have two of them on your team and, at the end of the season; they usually combine for the most points on the team (barring the Tom Brady/Randy Moss connection circa 2007). So having the first pick in the draft may not be the greatest pick of all seeing as your second pick will happen about 20-24 picks later. So enjoy your Adrian Peterson/Ricky Williams backfield while I pick a more superb one-two punch that will dominate you.

So say you are right in the middle of the pack. By this time Peterson, Jones-Drew, and Michael Turner are probably gone. Fear not, for there are much greater respected backs to come. Take DeAngelo Williams for instance. Last season he had over 1,500 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Not to mention that he could be a threat out of the backfield Westbrook style. He only had 22 receptions for two touchdowns last year, but only because the threat of Steve Smith down the sideline. Smith’s ability to make big plays downfield is a positive for Williams seeing as it will open up the running game. Look for DeAngelo Williams to have an MVP caliber season for the Panthers.
Sophomore slumps happen to the best of them, but not when it comes to Steve Slaton. The pride of the Mountaineers is going to come out even better in 2009. Now I know the Houston Texans are a laughing stock in the AFC but they really do have talent. They are just in a really tough division with Tennessee, Indianapolis and Jacksonville. But the combination of Andre Johnson should be enough to help them win 10 games. If Matt Schaub is healthy during the regular season then Steve Slaton will have another fantastic year. Look for him to grab 1,500 plus yards on the ground and at least 10 rushing touchdowns.

Now when it’s time for your second round pick and it seems as if everyone is gone, don’t fret, there are still quality backs that don’t have the last name Tomlinson (who is on the decline but that’s a whole other issue). LenDale White has dropped massive weight since last season and looks to be quicker than he was in college. Even if Chris Johnson gets most of the carries White will steal a couple of touchdowns when they’re inside the 10. And don’t skip on Brandon Jacobs if you have the opportunity to pick him up in the second round. The man runs through anyone who stands in his way and the Giants have lost the idea of having a three headed monster backfield so Jacobs should get plenty of carries. Plus, Jacobs has the potential to take a broken play to the house by himself.
Good luck in each of your fantasy drafts…May the force be with you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Possible Threepeat? If only...

I have caught myself saying repeatedly in conversation with friends, “Could you imagine?!” about the Phillies winning another World Series let alone three. Don’t get me wrong, last year it was phenomenal to be a Philadelphia Phillies fan, but let’s get things straight. This is a what have you done for me lately city and personally, I want more. With the addition of Cliff Lee to the lineup the Phillies have a chance of winning two, maybe even three straight World Series Titles…hear me out.
Cole Hamels is currently the Phillies worst starting pitcher…I use the term “worst” loosely. But it’s not fair to call Hamels the “worst” seeing as they picked up the reigning Cy Young winner, a former three time Cy Young winner(who still has it). And they have Joe Blanton who hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs since June, and J.A. Happ, who is the best rookie pitcher in baseball. So to say that Hamels is the Phillies worst pitcher isn’t an insult. The Phillies’ staff is just that good.
The Phillies boast a 4.15 ERA, which is good enough for seventh in the MLB, but that number is very deceiving. Cliff Lee is 5-1 since becoming a Phillie and has a 1.80 ERA even after giving up six earned runs to the Braves. That’s so sick it makes me want to vomit. Also, J.A. Happ has cooled off but still has good stuff that can do well in the postseason. And Joe Blanton is quietly getting it done for the Phils. He has given up 16 earned runs since the All-Star Break in eight games. If he can produce those numbers in the playoffs then there is no doubt the Phillies will go deep. And to think, if Brad Lidge didn’t have nine blown saves and six losses, the Phillies could be 13.5 games up in the East and could rival the Yankees for best record in the league.
The Lidge factor is a rough one. Every Phillies fan holds their breath when he comes in the ninth inning no matter if it’s a one run lead or if it’s seven. He would have another blown save and loss if it weren’t for Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play. Granted, Bruntlett had back-to-back errors but still. Hopefully, Charlie Manuel does something about the embarrassing closing situation. Ryan Madson can not handle the pressure seeing as he blew five of nine opportunities, and Brett Myers is making his way back to the Big’s but who knows if he’ll be in the starting rotation rather than the bullpen. Simply put, the Phillies World Series hopes weigh on the arm of Brad Lidge. ..and they are high apple pie up in the sky hopes.

And the Mets are still awful...just in case you forgot.