Monday, August 30, 2010

Preseason Thoughts, and the GrooGrux Football Jesus

Just like the preseason itself, these little mind-bullets aren't significant, and won't really matter in a few weeks, but hey, it's still football.

I watched a few preseason games over the last few days. Week 3 of the preseason is supposed to be the one where we get the best idea of how teams will actually shake out during the regular season. With that in mind, a few thoughts about what coaches should do before the bullshit kickoff festivities.*

Like Rochester and Buddy, I also live in the Carolinas. Since the NFL has determined that no great American city television market shall be unblessed with a mediocre team, that means we get a lot of Panthers games. Although they wear minty AFC colors, the Panthers have come to embody what I like to think of as a typical NFC mentality, namely, run the ball and play solid defense. Their preseason game against the Titans showed that they need to get their offensive shit together. Speaking of minty, it wasn't until Jimmy Clausen entered the game in the 4th quarter that things started to pick up. While the Panthers still plan to start Matt Moore on opening day, they're still carrying Clausen, and college standouts Hunter Cantwell (Louisville) and Tony Pike (Cincinnatti) on the roster, which suggests they're at least contemplating adapting to the NFL's emerging pass-first-offense consensus. Also, I want to point out that John Fox is a criminally underrated coach. This is not a team to overlook.

Pittsburgh has been handed a $5 footlong crap sandwich, served up piping hot by the crap sandwich artist Ben Roethlisberger. His suspension puts Byron Leftwich at the helm, an idea that inspires confidence in exactly no one. I could go about how the Steelers are consequently pretty much out of the picture barring an incredible mid- and late-season run, but really all I wanted to say about them is that I saw Bill Cowher at a restaurant in Raleigh on Friday night after my fantasy draft, and that he gave me the up-nod when I shouted "Hey, Coach!" as he was walking past my table. It was pretty cool. And then I had a great Cuban sandwich; hold the crap.

Denver is a team that does not inspire a whole lot of confidence, as they seem to have been plagued with injuries this preseason, including to pretty much their entire backfield. Is this a plague that can be lifted ONLY BY FOOTBALL JESUS?!?!?! Denver certainly seems to think/hope so, and for that reason alone, they can all go get smote. A few weeks ago at our weekly trivia game (where our team, Queefer Sutherland, routinely dominates), Rochester and his buddy thought it great sport to run off a list of great Florida players after I went on a rant about FJ and how he can get fucked for all I care. Pssh. As if that was even the issue. The issue is that FJ is a douche, and I hate that he's in the NFL and positioned to make an impact this year. I hope Knowshon, being a Georgia boy, does the right thing and rolls up on FJ's ankle during a handoff.

Finally, I can't (and won't) go an entire post without mentioning the Bears. This seems to be a slow-motion train wreck, one that's all the uglier given the huge sums of money and draft picks that have been spent putting the cars in order. That's a metaphor, I believe. Urlacher, Briggs, and Roach are all hurt, and those are (were) the likely opening-day linebackers. Cutler seems to have not improved his decision-making ability, and to the surprise of nobody who ACTUALLY PAYS ATTENTION, Devin Hester continues not to be able to actually catch a football, which is kind of a core-competency for a starting WR in the NFL. Still, I predict the Bears will win the NFC North handily this year.

*Incidentally, the tagline for kickoff weekend is "Back to football," which to me at least implies a dismissal of irritating peripheral foofery, and a return to what makes the games and the sport so awesome, not unlike a coach refocusing his team after some locker-room towel-snapping jackassery. Ironic, then, that "Back to football" weekend is accompanied by some thrilling musical performances! Yes, there is quite obviously no better way to embody all of football's qualities than by hiring a girl, and the soccer of American music to perform for opening weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 Hater's Guide to the Top 25

Over at Deadspin, Drew Magary put up his annual Top 25 Hater's Guide. A good read, but I was struck by how many of the entries read like expanded versions of AF!'s own Top 25 preview. Of course, there's no way Drew saw ours, and, really how do you write about West Virginia and not mention burning couches?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Drunk, Naked, Trespassing News

If there were preseason rankings for stories about college football, this one would have to be in the top 3 (with a lot of first place points, no doubt). When I read the headline "Oregon State Lineman Tased, Arrested While Naked and Trespassing," my fingers nearly tripped over themselves getting to Everyday Should Be Saturday for their take.

The story: OSU lineman Tyler Patrick Thomas was found naked in the upstairs office of a 32-year old Corvallis woman. When the police arrived, Thomas got into a three-point stance, charged, and was tased. Perhaps obviously, Thomas was kicked off Oregon State's football team.

In an effort to overlook the obvious gross part of a huge naked dude in a three point stance, in my mind's eye, Thomas is a broken man in a small Northwest town. When the police start hassling him, he falls back on his training. Of course, the cop that corners him looks like Brian Dennehy and the one that tased him looks like a young David Caruso. And then, after Mike Riley tells Thomas he's off the team, he's led away by Richard Crenna.

Friday, August 20, 2010

In which I invite karmic retribution by personally mocking John Clayton

From ESPN's pigeon-lookin' John Clayton, perhaps the game's more reliable purveyor of lame conventional wisdom, comes another column of pointless drivel, one which also carries an added bonus of being totally wrong on several points.

ESPN'S John Clayton, reporting from the sidelines

The ostensible point is that among Mark "Dirty" Sanchez, Matt Stafford, and Sam Bradford, Sanchez will be the best this year. First off, let's all marvel at the piercing insight that the older player, with AFC title game experience under his belt, a better coach, and an actual running game will be more successful. I fully expect a future Clayton column to carry the title "Out-Scoring the Other Team: Secret to NFL Game Winning?" Clayton goes on to hype an eligible-for-AARP-benefits LaDanian Tomlinson, and the pass-dropping terminator Braylon Edwards, as if either of those guys will make it past about the 6th week of the season without breaking or straining something. What's awesome is that Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs last year, having Edwards, Cochery, and an already thoroughly decent running back. Meanwhile, Stafford, despite looking like that kid in that Demotivator picture, had comparable stats with a shitty running game, and only Megatron as a legit target. EVEN MORE, it had to be a consistent exercise in pride-swallowing for Stafford to throw to him.

Matt Stafford through the years

Says Clayton: "The Jets plan to run the ball every bit as much as the did a year ago, and it would be a surprise if Sanchez doesn't complete more than 60% of his passes this season." Uh, yeah it would. It would surprise me very much, as a matter of fact. Sanchez was 29th out of 32 last year in completion percentage, and if the Jets are running the ball as much as they did last year, Sanchez will need to make a yuge improvement in his accuracy this year. Not having Braylon Edwards would be a big help.

Man, I could go on and on about how bullshit this column is.
"Sometimes, it's just a matter of sending you in and say, 'Just go play,''' Sanchez said in camp. "I think that comes with learning the system and feeling comfortable. You also need to let things go. You just need to get to the next play if you have a bad run play or an interception or incompletion. You just need to let it go. You can analyze the error but don't have paralysis by analysis.''
Dude, you can say that in camp, and realize it in your head, or you can actually feel it, and play like it, like Stafford did all last year. "Stafford has a stronger arm than Sanchez, but it will take him a couple more seasons to come close to being successful." Not according to the stats, pigeon. In fact, aside from their teams' records, they're pretty fuckin' comparable.

As a UGA grad, I'm rooting for Stafford here. Plus, I've played team trivia against him in Athens, and our team beat his ass. As far as I'm concerned, Sanchez can go eat a bag of dicks. The nice ones, though. From Target. Clayton obviously has a hard on for the guy. As my first A*F! prediction, which will likely follow in the hallowed footsteps of my predecessors of being howlingly, knee-slappingly wrong, I want to predict that Stafford and Sanchez will be statistically pretty fuckin' equal, or Stafford beats that ass.

Game on, Clayton. Game on.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What a fucking shocker....

Geez, Louise, who'd ever have guessed Brett Favre wasn't retiring after all?

To Brett Favre: Seriously, get bent.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sixteen Days

Yes, a mere sixteen days until football season is back. (I do not count the NFL preseason as the start of football season because, while it's nice to see football being played live on television, come on...the preseason is boring as shit.)

ESPN's doing their normal Week One Thursday night thing, double-heading (that shit's a verb now, y'all) Southern Miss at South Carolina and USC at Hawaii, but somehow Versus is showing Pitt at Utah. It seems like I'll be watching Versus for the first time ever. What can I say, I don't give a good Gee Dee about UFC (or, wait, is that Spike I'm thinking of?).

Now, to link to something, go read a list of former NFL coaches that bust(ed) in college.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

USA Today Preseason Top 25

First and foremost (in case you didn't read the comment I left in Turk's inaugural post), welcome, Turk! Full disclosure: I've known Turk for a good long while, and somehow still really like him even though he's a pretty insufferable Bears fan. But then, I like Rochester, too, and he's a racist.

Anyway, I was looking around the football news world for a "WednesDay in Football" but nothing tickled my fancy, so I figured I'd write about something I'd intended to earlier. So without further ado, USA Today's Preseason Top 25 (with my own comments):

1. Alabama - Talent-rich, of course, but dang if Nick Saban isn't still the college coach most deserving a cock-punch.
2. Ohio State - OSU seemed to have turned a corner in the Rose Bowl when Sweatervest realized Terrelle Pryor was best utilized if the offense was opened up a bit. Will he carry that realization into 2010? No.
3. Florida - Sure, sure, John Brantley's the starting quarterback on paper, but we all know who's really leading the Gators onto the field each Saturday. Why, the plaque of Tebow's speech, of course!
4. Texas - One of a two team race to see who kills Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship.
5. Boise State - At #5, Boise State is in great shape to make a run at the Championship game. Which, in reality, means they'll finish undefeated, and #3....
6. Virginia Tech - Get ready for another Beamerriffic season: a bunch of 17-6 games with at least one disappointing loss (perhaps Duke?).
7. TCU - Expect another excellent defense and solid offense on a team no one will pay attention to.
8. Oklahoma - (See Texas)
9. Nebraska - A Big 12 farewell tour, beautifully capped off by getting waxed by whoever wins the South in the Big 12 Championship game.
10. Iowa - Boringly Efficient: Catch Hawkeye Fever!
11. Oregon - From LaGarette Blount to Jeremiah Masoli, a recent history rich with criminals.
12. Wisconsin - A sexy NC dark horse pick. Which has translated, in the past, to a 7-6 season.
13. Miami - Like every preseason for the past 10 years, the question is: Is The U back? Not without 200% more fat gold chains, they're not.
14. Penn State - Is this the season Joe Paterno falls asleep on the sideline during a game?
15. Pittsburgh - Wannstache always seems to keep creeping up the polls, even as he fails to perform up to expectations. A true American success story.
16. LSU - Hopefully this will be a balls to the wall, go for the win not the tie on fourth and short with :06 on the clock sorta season like a few years ago. Or, at the very least, a season with a lot of underage bar fights.
17. Georgia Tech - Face it: nobody knows what to make of the ACC this season.
18. North Carolina - (See: Georgia Tech)
19. Arkansas - Ryan Mallett is a Heisman candidate. Say what?
20. Florida State - (See: North Carolina)
21. Georgia - Georgia's transitioning to a 3-4 defense under a new coordinator. So...that's...something.
22. Oregon State - Goddamit, I still get them and Oklahoma State confused.
23. Auburn - Auburn's motto for 2010 is "Eight ain't it." Seriously? That's got a real "rural juror" quality to it.
24t. Utah - I'm sorry, your honor...yooooths.
24t. West Virginia - BURN. THAT. COUCH!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Introduction, and Thoughts on Progress

What's up, Internet? Besides pictures of your cat, I mean. (Which, really? We're still doing this?) I'm Turk Ramsey, and this is my first post here at A*F! And... oooh, off to a bad start. Hopefully I'll do better if Buddy and Rochester let my ass on the podcast. Anyway, let's wake up this sleepy-ass place with some football shit. Get the ball rolling.

Probably the one thing I'm most looking forward to about the upcoming football season is being able to watch college football again without having to hear the name... well, I'm not even going to say it. Let me just link to the latest bit of him-related (Him-related?) bullshit and move on. What remains to be seen, however, is how His former teammates will be treated by the media. For example, will Riley Cooper's new first name become [his]-former-roommate-Riley? I think the answer to that is directly related to whether or not Verne Lundquist will be calling any Eagles games this year, and how many touchdown passes Cooper catches. And, lol, I don't see that happening too much. I call that progress.

One thing you should know about ol' Turk is that I'm a die-hard fan of the Chicago Bears. This makes the news that Brett Favre is somewhere between 67.8% and "I'll tell you next week" sure that he's retiring that much more exciting, because that means the Bears will win the NFC North this year. I mean, look, Tavaris Jackson to Sidney "Who?" Rice is not something on which you want to pin your team's hopes. Favre's big plays last year covered up a LOT of offensive incompetence and poor coaching last year. As for the Packers, it's still not clear at this point if their pass defense has progressed beyond the high school level yet.

That's all I got for now, but let's hope Buddy and Rochester realize soon that NFL preseason has already started, and start posting.