Monday, September 27, 2010

Lazy football thoughts

I'm too tired to make any cutesy jokes, so here's a bunch of football shit I've been thinking about lately.

1. Notre Dame sucks. I'm not sure this is a surprise to anyone that actually pays attention to football, but it sure seems to be a surprise to the national media. It's time we all stopped paying attention to them until they do something noteworthy besides exist. So, ignoration starting... now.

2. Mark Sanchez is still not really that good. Again, yuuuuuge surprise to the national media, but not to anybody who has seen a QB who is able to throw more than about 20 yards. Because if you have, you'd be like, "Mark Sanchez is not one of those guys." Also, I hereby vow, for the rest of my Darwin-given life, to loudly and lustily chant "OVER-RATED" whenever I see Braylon Edwards in real life. Number of times I expect this to happen: 0.

3. Rex Ryan is a pretty good coach. I am large. I contain multitudes. Not as large as Rex Ryan, but still. Pretty large.

4. The Bears are well on their way to winning the NFC North, as predicted. The Vikings suck, and the Packers have really yet to put together a game that shows me that they're worthy of all the preseason hype.

5. NC State ZOMG WTF!!!!

6. Kinda looking forward to seeing Brian Brohm start for Buffalo this week. Not saying "succeed" this week, because he's still saddled with probably the worst organization in the league, but I like when young QBs get a chance to show their stuff after successful college careers.

7. Stanford ZOMG WTF!!!

8. Denard Robinson is pretty awesome.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Action Football's (Literal) Football Watching Guide

I watch a lot of football. You watch a lot of football. But have you ever stopped to think about how you watch football? Well, here's how I do it.

Years ago some magazine had a sidebar with tips from John Madden about how to watch football on television. The only one of the tips that I remember is that you should keep your eye on the offensive line before and immediately after the snap. Ever since reading that, that's what I do.

Initially, it was pretty difficult, because up to that point I was following the ball from the snap until the end of the play. Thing is, watching the guard and centers will tell you almost immediately if the play is a run or pass, the direction of the former and if there's a roll-out pocket on the latter. If you see the line move forward at the snap, it's a run, back up, it's a pass (or, I guess, a draw). If a guard pulls in one direction, chances are that's where the run is headed. If the entire line moves back and uniformly in one direction, that's going to be a moving pocket for a roll-out pass.

If it's a run play, I'll generally switch my focus to the running back, or more specifically, the area to which the running back is headed. Since it's almost impossible to see if a hole is open from the sideline perspective of the cameras, you kind of have to develop a sense for how many players are in the vicinity and if there are any free-running defensive players.

If it's a pass play, I start a "one one thousand, two one thousand..." count. Most NFL offenses have pass plays designed to get the ball out before you hit "four." If you get past four and the quarterback isn't scrambling, he's probably going to get knocked down whether or not he gets the ball out. For the most part, it's better to keep your eye on the line and/or backs tasked with picking up blitzers because 1) it's pretty much impossible to watch receivers that run routes any more than five yards down field after the camera sets on the quarterback, and 2) it gives you a much better sense of the pressure generated than simply watching quarterback look for receivers.

After I got comfortable watching plays develop this way, I started paying more attention to adjustments made before the snap. How many linebackers or defensive backs were crowding the line showing blitz? Did the center, quarterback, and/or running back(s) appear to point out those players? If so, did they back off? In most cases, at least one of the players that shows blitz ends up dropping off into coverage, in some cases being replaced by a blitzer that hadn't indicated he was rushing. At the snap, when the rush is set loose, are all the blitzers picked up? On a run, if it was impossible to pick up every blitzer, was the blocking scheme adjusted so the free-runner was furthest from the running back and coming from the direction away from where the ball is headed?

I'd argue that if you start keeping these things in mind while you watch games, you'll get a better sense of how the game is progressing, the strategy the offensive and defensive coordinators are employing, and how individual match ups are being played out. It's pretty gratifying to see a spectacular block that seals a running lane while the play's developing rather than having it pointed out by some color commentary jag during a replay.

One downside of this viewing approach, though: you'll find yourself getting a little pissed when, inevitably, the telecast holds too long on a replay, cutting back to the game after the next play is run. I mean, if I don't see every snap of the game, someting bad might happen. Now I'm going to have to switch the kitchen light on and off twenty five times while holding down the mute button on my cellphone.

Whew, that's better.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weeks 2 and 3

Earlier in the week, I had some big ideas for getting a solo podcast up considering AF!'s now five weeks behind what we've done in the past. The cost/benefit analysis came out waaaay on the side of "cost," so those were scrapped. Then, I had half a post typed up that was basically this paragraph and then a fleshed out outline of what I was gonna say on the podcast. Then I got busy and that got the heave ho.

So now here we are: Already into Week 3 (congratulations NC State, you couldn't have done it without Rochester's support), and shy of a post about Jacory Harris's Columbus attire, no mention of Week 2. At all. Man alive, we're pros!

So, before looking ahead, let's take a brief look back.

Virginia Tech becomes a national non-factor so much faster than anyone ever would have thought. Tough tiddies for them, but the real question is how it's going to affect Boise State. Obviously, the Broncos' clutch Week 1 win is a lot lest lustrous after VaTech Michiganed it up to James Madison, but I think, for the most part, Boise State controls their own destiny. If they win out - handily - they'll get a shot at the NC, especially since they still have a game against Oregon State. The Beavers are still a ranked team despite a close loss to TCU, a top tier team in their own right. Of course, if Oregon State somehow lost to Louisville this weekend, well, Boise State would be pretty well fucked.

ESPN's much hyped "Monster Saturday" pretty much failed to live up to the billing on all fronts. First, South Carolina beat Georgia 17-6, leading wire to wire. Then, Ohio State beat Miami 36-24. And finally, Alabama beat Penn State back to the Stone Age (or, alternatively, Joe Paterno's awkward teenage years; hahahahaha, he's old!) 24-3.

Speaking of Alabama, that one running back sure is doing well in relief of that injured, starting running back. (Note to intern: fill in those names)

I think everybody's done talking about how the Lions got jobbed on that essentially game ending not-a-touchdown-after-all call. But look, I hate the Bears as much as everyone should, and I would have loved to see them get beat. At home. By the Lions. But as the rule is written, Calvin Johnson's reception wasn't. This isn't a new rule, and I find it hard to believe there's a receiver in the League that doesn't know you have to keep possession to the ground. And given that 1) he's a professional athlete with presumed excellent kinetic sense and 2) replays show there was about twenty minutes from the time he caught the ball in the air until the ball touched the ground, he probably should have been able to bring the ball into his bread basket and land on his side. Just sayin'. Still, non-Bears fans should take solace in the fact that Cutler and Co. barely beat a team that's won two games in the last two years, was without their starting quarterback, in Chicago. Lovie Smith's seat must be on fiiiyaaaah.

When is it too soon to make the JErsey RaTS and their fans stop the Super Bowl talk? 'Cause Monday night probably should have been it. Granted, Baltimore's got a helluva defense but the Jets offense (and Mark Sanchez in particular) looked effing dreadful. Yeah, so the Jets' defense also looked pretty good, and they say that defense wins championships, but the other part of that is offense winning games and good goddam luck playing for a championship if you don't win any games....

Finally, because it's the game I paid closest attention to, there was a lot of shit going on in the Packers/Eagles game. First, their were injuries galore. In the light of the increased scrutiny of and research into head injuries, the most significant long term were the concussions to the Eagles' Kevin Kolb (QB) and Stewart Bradley (LB). Especially the latter, given the fact that after he took the shot to his dome, he hit the ground, laid there, attempted to get up, stumbled, collapsed, and then still attempted to get up, despite the panicked pleas of his teammates to stay down while they were waving over medical personnel. I'll have to check the replay, but I'm fairly certain his brains were hanging out of his ears when he got to the sideline. And yet the coaching staff let him return to the game before finally, duh, diagnosing the concussion at halftime. Apparently, Andy Reid wants to use 2010 to expand his horrible, horrible in-game strategizing from "clock management" and "play calling" to "player safety" as well. (Although don't think for a second he's giving up on those other two: just look at how he used up all his timeouts with six minutes left in a one-score game or how he called a to-be-game-ending 4th and one quarterback sneak - up the damn middle - after a game loaded with Michael Vick runs to the outside that absolutely torched Green Bay's defense. Bravo, Andy Reid, bravo.)

That being said, since the Packers are most everybody's Super Bowl darling, you can't overlook the hit they took losing Ryan Grant for the year. Brandon Jackson ran well in relief during the Eagles games, and apparently the Eagles forgot that fullbacks were allowed to touch the ball considering Chad Kuhn seemed to gain a minimum of seven yards on the few carries he had, and the strength of the offense is the deep and varied passing attack, so.... Actually, I forgot where I was going here. Suffice it to say, I think the Packers'll be okay.

So, as far as this week is concerned:

#1 Alabama a. Duke - There was some article that said the the Blue Devils' passing attack was going to test 'Bama's defense. That's some wishful thinking. Plus, I was certain this was a misprint: Alabama at Duke? Has Alabama ever played in a stadium that only holds 33,000 people?
#18 USC a. Minnesota - After seeing them play for a couple of weeks, I'm surprised USC's still ranked as high as 18. If Minnesota plans to beat a ranked team this year, this is the game. But, yeah, that's not going to happen.
Arizona State a. #11 Wisconsin - As a Badgers fan, this game's got me nervous as hell. Which does not bode well for Conference play.... Looks like it's off to Costco to stock up on Tums and Prilosec.
Baylor a. #4 TCU - Should be fun. Baylor's Robert Griffin can be an electrifying player (although doesn't it seem like he's been playing for about twelve years now?) and TCU has to win all their games in convincing fashion in order to stay in BCS striking range.
Clemson a. #16 Auburn - I know shit-all about Clemson this season, but after Mississippi State threw a scare into Auburn to start the season, who knows what'll happen here?
Mississippi State a. #15 LSU - So I just mentioned Mississippi State's near-upset of Auburn. Add to that LSU barely getting by North Carolina team short a shit-ton of players (on a side note, it's funny to think about Rochester foaming at the mouth right now; relax, I mentioned that as a fact, not an excuse for the Tar Heels...), and a MSST win would hardly be classified as an upset.
#6 Texas a. Texas Tech - In state blah blah blah.
#9 Iowa a. #24 Arizona - Why do I get the feeling Iowa's going to be down 31-10 at halftime, but then end up winning 33-31?
Wake Forest a. #19 Stanford - Here's my upset special. Which will probably work out as well as my last one....
ECU a. Virginia Tech - Will Virgina Tech go from NC hopeful to 0-3 dog in three short weeks? I don't see why not.

It's only week two, so almost all of the games are equally meaningful and meaningless, but looking over the schedule...damn, there's not much in terms of must-see football. So my advice is to watch your favorite team play (and be thankful that byes haven't started yet) and then watch Sunday Ticket's Red Zone channel.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Jacory Harris, sometimes pretty good at football, but always sporting the latest in Tressel-mocking apparel. +1, bro.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This weekend's NFL line...

...what the hell is wrong with you? It is week one. I don't know shit about fuck. If you have to bet, then might I suggest going to a local soccer field and betting on youth soccer. I'd like to act like I've never done that and call you a degenerate. However, I have. Check back at Action Football! for week five picks.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Onion Sports 2010 NFL Team-By-Team Guide

Read it here.

Choice bits:

[Steelers] Intangibles: Commitment to defense forces opposing teams to respect the Steel Curtain until they realize at halftime that it's overrated and they should probably be exploiting a secondary that is actually pretty terrible

[Jaguars] Weakness: Quarterback controversy between Luke McCown and David Garrard has coaches wondering if they should even have a quarterback at all

[Texans] Strength: If quarterback Matt Schaub continues to improve at the rate he did between 2007 and 2009, he will throw for 6,000 yards and 90 touchdowns this year

[Eagles] Weakness: With the loss of Brian Westbrook, the Eagles have a major hole at starting knee injury and concussion

[Cardinals] Strength: Superstar Larry Fitzgerald runs crisp routes, gets good separation, and watches helplessly as poorly thrown passes wobble to the turf

Weekend Watching

Without a midweek podcast tipping you off to the marquee games, how do you know what games are worth your time? This post is how!

The obvious approach is to find games with two ranked teams squaring off. So....
  • #22 Georgia a. #24 South Carolina - Click here for commentary.
  • #17 FSU a. #10 Oklahoma - Cut those rankings in half and this could be 1994.
  • #12 Miami a. #2 Ohio State - The first chance for Ohio State to get knocked out of the NC race. Keep them fingers crossed!
  • #18 Penn State a. #1 Alabama - Criminy, that's three pretty interesting match ups in a row. How the hell did this many huge games get scheduled this early in the season?!?
Next, you can try to pick out a few that just seem like they might be good. (Uh, duh.)
  • Iowa State a. #9 Iowa - Buddy Randolph's Upset Alert...for no particular reason.
  • #25 Stanford a. UCLA - Eventually UCLA's going to start winning games, right?
  • Virginia a. #16 USC - Because how hilarious would it be if Virginia's even mildly competitive in this game?
It's Week One, you might as well watch as many games as you can.

Although it might be worth boycotting the ESPN Monday Night double header on principle. I hate this new "tradition." Practically, the timing really only works for viewers in the Central and Mountain timezones. On the East Coast, the late game doesn't end until, like, 2 in the damn morning. On the West Coast, the first game starts at 4 o'clock. On a Monday. Plus, since they started doing this, one game has been okay (this year: Baltimore at the Jets) and one game has been fucking terrible (San Diego a. Kansas City). Attention ESPN: Knock it off.

Do you think it's gonna make him change?

Sometimes I think that Tom Brady's car accident was due to his new haircut. Like, some girl drove past, and he was just standing there, locks glistening in the sun, and she got like mesmerized and crashed, like that commercial with Dennis Duffy. I mean, not that you could blame the other driver. Look how pretty!

In other, less gay, footballier news... The Saints kinda squeeked by the Minnesota Interceptions Fumbles Favres Vikings on opening night. Hurry, go make an "all is right with the world" or "Who dat" Facebook status update, then resume regularly scheduled photos of your niece's birthday party.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It is on like Rae Dawn Chong

When Rochester and Buddy started butting heads

Nothing I loves more than being called out for not posting from a man on vacation. I apologize for not posting, but ol' Rochester has made some big moves. BIG MOVES! Things got rough for me and next thing I know I living in "Pirate Country" You need a little Rochester love? Here you go:

  • Ben Rothlisberger (SHIT I SPELLED HIS NAME RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!) is scared on how Pittsburgh fans will react to him. I can only imagine how scare he will feel. I bet it would feel like being forced to drink shots, then being forced into a bathroom by men who are twice your size, and then being forced to have sex with a middle of the road NFL QB. When it is all done, the sexual predator takes photos with the local law enforcement, that are paid to protect you. To finish it, the man in charge of the only punishment for the aforementioned sexual assault, reduces it because the sex offender was nice to him and his boss claims that it is all behind him. Man, that does sound like a nightmare, Ben. How could someone live with that?
  • Darrelle "And his other brother, Darryl" Revis ended his hold out roughly the GDP of Peru short of Nnamdi Asomugha's monster contract. If Revis wants that contract, then he should just hope that Al Davis lives long enough for his contract to end in New Jers-er-York. (Ed Note: Al Davis is crazy) On another note, can players who have a good season just go ahead sit out the following camp and stop this goofy "I hold out" malarkey? Geez 'um, Crow!
  • Tom Brady is still in talks about is contract. Good luck, Tom. I kind of visualize all interested parties involved sitting about a table as the bill shows up and no one is making eye contact. New England is cheaper than a Jewish Scotsman. (Ed. Note: Happy New Year, Jews) Also, Bill Belichick never even made it to the table because he was chatting up some GMILF at the bar, drinking Coors Cutter.
  • Reggie Bush is going to lose the Heisman. OJ Simpson killed two people and robbed a dude at gun point, so...
  • A.J. Green will have to sit out three games because he sold his game-worn jersey. The weird thing is he sold it to a Japanese business man. Because you see, we buy their girls' soiled underwear and they by our NCAA football players jerseys. Is there really a market for these things? Aye gross!
  • Hey Notre Dame won last week! That means when the stumble around for a victory, like a 14-year ripping at a date's bra, against Michigan this week, then we can expect them in the top 10 next week. FAAAAAACK!
I am still here, Buddy. I am down, but I ain't out!

Without comment....

via Deadspin, by way of With Leather

Sunday, September 5, 2010

95% of the way through the first week of football

First off, it's a good God damn thing Turk was added to Action Football! He's out of the gate with the sort of enthusiasm that Rochester and I had at the beginning of this thing. (By the way, I guess since Rochester's name is still up there on the logo, he's still involved with AF!, all evidence to the contrary.)

Technically speaking, I have an excuse for (at least the last week of) my inactivity: I've just returned from the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin. Speaking of Wisconsin, the Badgers had their first game last night (well, since I'm on the East Coast, I should say "this morning" since two thirds of the game was after midnight...). No longer having Directv, I watched it online, full on illegally. How rad is it that technology exists that some dude with Directv in South Dakota can hook me up with the game? Pretty rad. (Granted, the stream was sub-starndard def, but in theory it could be high definition and likely eventually will be, and it was free.)

While I'm still working the kinks out of my 2010 football watching technique, I'm awfully glad football's back on.

The thing that stuck with me most from yesterday was seeing on the ticker that the Cardinals had released Matt Leinart. Hilarious.

Now to wrap up this un-thought out post, my reactions to Turk's reactions regarding the Big Ten-lve divisions. I'm going to end up pretty "company man" here in that I don't have the same issues as my esteemed colleague.

1. Competitive balance - Like TR mentioned, there is an assumption that programs don't get better or worse. The thing is, taking a long view, Big Ten programs rarely get significantly better or worse overall. In the past thirty years, the biggest movement in the Conference has been the progress Wisconsin made after Barry Alvarez was hired and Michigan falling off recently. In those two instances, though, Wisconsin's been generally in the top third of the Big Ten for the past fifteen years and I get the sense that Michigan's going to be back on the upswing to the same top third starting this year. Any football program can experience dips or bubble up, but the Big Ten's been pretty consistent over time.

2. Maintaining rivalries - Okay, this is dumb. Either you have it set up that each team plays every other team in its division, keeping teams in the same division as their rivals or you keep rivals in different divisions so that there's the possibility of them meeting in the Championship game. The way it worked out, it doesn't seem to matter where anybody is since, like Turk mentioned, Ohio State and Michigan will still play each other every year.

3. Geography - I'm confused by Ramsey's assertion that "[t]his obviously didn't come out in a strict East - West sort of deal, as the far east teams like Penn State won't be routinely going to Nebraska or Iowa." While not "strict" (Champaign is further west than Ann Arbor) wouldn't those divisions actually imply an East/West separation? The NFC North is the NFC North because Minnesota doesn't routinely travel to New Orleans....

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How badly is the Big Ten conference idea screwed up?

Pretty fuckin' badly, if you axe me. I'm certain Buddy will have something to say about it when he gets back from his weeklong fornication vacation, too.

The divisions were announced last night, and they're more gerrymandered than a New York congressional district.
Neither division has been named but they break down like this: Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern in one. Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana in the other.
The conference had said previously that their three concerns in dividing up would be 1) maintaining a competitive balance, 2) maintaining rivalries, and 3) geography, and in that order.
So how did they do?

1) Maintaining a competitive balance. This is so dumb as to be hardly even worth considering. It assumes that schools become no better and no worse over time. And even if they don't, who is the current "competitive balance" to Ohio State in the other division? Michigan? Please. Michigan State? NORTHWESTERN? COME ON! What if say, Wisconsin, grows into a Ohio State-like powerhouse (one that wins its bowl games, though)? Will the divisions change? No. So, fail.

2) Maintaining rivalries. What are the tradition Big Ten rivalries, and were they "maintained?"
  • Michigan - Ohio State: Obviously the biggest. Will still play each other in a "cross-division" rivalry game on the last week of each season. So, why put them in a different division? Georgia-Florida: both in the same division. UNC-Duke (hahaha... aaahhhahahahaha... no, not football): both in the same division. THAT'S how you make a rivalry. You don't make up some bullshit "cross-division" name and then call it a rivalry. I call this "not maintained." That they still play each other every year is a mere technicality. Playing the game on the last week of the season makes it sort of an "all or nothing" deal. Either the game has meaning for the championship, or it doesn't, whereas putting the two in the same division would make the game float in the schedule each year. With the addition of a championship game, can you see a situation where Ohio State has the division sewn up going into the Michigan game, and then plays scrubs so nobody gets hurt? I can.
  • Minnesota - Wisconsin: Same deal. Huge game. We've been assured they'll play each other in a cross-division rivalry game. Just dumb.
  • Wisconsin - Iowa: NOT MAINTAINED.
  • Even the recent quasi-rivalries we've seen emerge over the past few years, like Wisconsin - Northwestern have not been maintained.
  • ESPN says: "The other cross-divisional rivalries will be: Nebraska and Penn State, pitting the Big Ten's two newest members; Indiana and Michigan State, which play for the Brass Spittoon; and Iowa and Purdue; and in-state rivals Illinois and Northwestern."Lame, lame, lame. Penn State and Nebraska are not rivals just because they're the newest in the Big Ten. That's just stupid. Indiana and Michigan State? I've never even heard of that. Iowa and Purdue, obviously even too lame for the article to elaborate on. Illinois - Northwestern is sort of legit, in the way that watching two babies fight would be kind of interesting for a minute.
  • Other ones too dumb to mention. Except maybe Michigan - Michigan State, which I guess is sort of maintained.
3) Geography. This obviously didn't come out in a strict East - West sort of deal, as the far east teams like Penn State won't be routinely going to Nebraska or Iowa. I can sort of see a rough arcing North - South deal, though, if you squint really hard. Frankly, I think an East - West breakdown would have made the most sense, and best accomplished the other two goals.

I honestly don't see a whole lot of logic to the announced split, but we can be damned sure it was driven primarily by loudmouth Ohio State fans, and whatever beer-soaked corn dog logic they barfed up behind the Denny's.