Friday, January 2

New Year's Football Thoughts

It is the second day of 2009 and I am back in the office today for one day of work before the weekend. Yes, everyone has pointed out how strange it is to be off since before Christmas and then come in for one day but luckily I still have the after effects of a bad cold, the dreary gray sky, and a half-emptied office to cheer me up. It has been awhile since I last visited our little online haven and I have collected a few various thoughts from the past week and a half of sports. Read on for the brain smatterings.


- The Jets seriously let down the Patriots in their last game, but that is exactly why you never want your fate in someone else's hands. As I have said all along the Pats get zero sympathy from anyone, and the failure to win that game in Indy proved very costly. Still, Belichick deserves props for what he did this year even if he deservedly will not get any. The Matt Cassell quandry will not dominate the off-season media coverage as mystery surrounds Brady's knee and it will be interesting to see how it will effect the team if Scott Pioli bolts for the Browns. Eric Mangini got sacrificed at the alter of Farve and I do not see how the Jets can turn this into a positive unless they let Farve loose and snag Spagnuolo.

- It was interesting to see how the Panthers were able to move the ball into sure-fire field goal range for kicker John Kasay in a game they needed against the Saints to lock up the 2 seed. If they had been that aggressive in getting Kasay a closer kick the previous week in the Meadowlands they could have had the 1 seed. With that said I don't think it will bother the Panthers to have to travel to New York again if necessary.

- A lot is being made of Arizona and Minnesota having problems selling out their playoff games. Certainly in the case of Arizona it can be stated that the fanbase is not as loyal as others, but when you look at the Vikings case, I think this is an economic situation more than anything else. People are more obliged to say for get the expensive ticket and trip to the stadium I will just sit back on the recliner and follow the game from home. It is not so much that people are not interested, it is that in times like the ones we are facing a grossly over-priced upper-deck ticket for an opening round play-off game is not high on the budget.

- I was not completely shocked by Mike Shanahan getting axed. The fact that he was in charge of the personnel moves was the biggest factor in my mind. There was probably no way he was going to give up the GM duties aand the Broncos had to cut ties. ESPN loved rolling out Shanahan's record with and without Elway. It is as if he was supposed to be that dominant after losing Elway and the rest of that team. What? You mean that the coach will not win as many games after losing one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play? Madness! Also, it was not just like Shanahan lost only Elway; Terrell Davis succumbed to injuries, Atwater and the secondary retired or moved on, Romanowski hit the prescription center a little too much, Neil Smith retired, and the dirty strong O-line was re-tooled as well. Shanahan did take Denver to some playoff appearances and almost made the Super Bowl with Jake Plummer at the helm until Jake chose his horrible turnover game of the year for the AFC Championship. Mike will be back somewhere, and I think it will be a good hire when he is unless he gets GM control again.

- The Eagles are similar to the Giants of last year and could end up doing to the Giants what they did to the Cowboys last January. I have yet to speak with someone or read somewhere that someone is picking the Vikes.

- It is always the case, but this year whoever these teams hire as their new coaches is so crucial to whether the teams turn around. A strong hand is needed in Cleveland where talent is substantial on the offensive side of the ball, the Jets need someone who can rally all the discontent veterans together, the Broncos need...a lot of help.

The Bowls

- Thanks to ESPN for turning Chase Daniel's family into another edition of Brenda Warner. Hey, there was a false start on Northwestern, let's get a shot of the Daniel clan, it will really pump up the drama.

- Is there anyone who does not think the bowl season is spread too long and too thin? There were some great games, but a lot is lost in not having the cluster of good games on or around New Year's. It is another freakin week until the faux-champion is even crowned.

- As with baseball, Fox just does not get it. It's the Orange Bowl, the match-up is week and you are rolling out kick-off after 8:30 EST? When you consider the Doobie Brothers extended halftime, the game did not end until around or after midnight (I went to bed) and if you consider I have a stronger inclination for watching sports than most, who was left watching? They will do the same for the title game, which is ridiculous, get ready for the same kind of ratings you got with baseball.

- As a Miami fan, alum, former employee, and all together huge supporter I am pissed. The clock/game management at the end of the Emerald Bowl against Cal was some of the worst I have ever seen. From the players to the coaches it was not a sharp performance. Holding a timeout with 2:27 left down 7 and letting the clock tick down to :06 at midfield is inexcusable. I have championed Randy Shannon since day 1. It is good to have a positive minority role model in place at the helm and his disciplinarian tactics have virtually eliminated off-field problems, but in the end you have to do that AND win games. The firing of offensive coordinator Patrick Nix was welcome to most Hurricane fans including myself, but then Nix stated that it was Shannon, not he who elected not to spread the field and open up the offense. Shannon fired his defensive coordinator after last year and his offensive one this year, next year he has no excuses, none. Robert Marve is gone and Jacory Harris is the starter, he has the summer to improve his decision-making and learn how to hold on the ball. No excuses next season, Randy and believe me, I'm rooting for you.

- The call for a playoff is louder than ever in college football and after some putrid bowls, it cannot be denied that it is what should happen. Even if the retarded, inbred cousin of the playoff system, also known as the +1 comes to fruition, it will still not be good enough. With the bowl games being featured on their own now and not bunched together as in years prior, unless you have a rooting interest it is so transparent how college football is suffering from the bowl system as it is now. By suffering I mean from a sports philosophical point of view, financially they are doing quite well thank you.

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