Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quick Hits

It’s pretty obvious that the players at “The U” believe you get to the NFL by rushing the QB and tackling running backs - not by covering TEs. They didn’t cover any of the Wisconsin TEs all game, and got burned for it as Wisconsin beat Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl last night. The game was proof that at Miami, swagger is valued, and intelligence is not - the Hurricanes continually fell prey to every play action fake and misdirection running play. I’m pretty sure most of the Miami team would struggle to spell “The U” if you gave them 3 guessses. And Miami’s quarterback Jacorey Harris? Looks like a carbon copy of Terrell Pryor (Ohio State), Juice Williams (Illinois), Andre Woodson (Kentucky), Brad Banks (Iowa) or Kordell Stewart (Colorado). All great athletes that can’t play quarterback. A nice win for a young Wisconsin team to get to 10 wins and likely start next season in the top 15.

Facts we know in the Texas Tech - Mike Leach - Adam Jones - debacle: (1) Jones was disciplined for lack of effort in practice, (2) Jones got a concussion, (3) He was put in an equipment shed for 3 hours, (4) his dad, ESPN’s Craig James, complained to the Texas Tech administration, and (5) Mike Leach is due a $800,000 bonus if he’s still the coach on Thursday, 12/31.
From there, the versions of the story depend upon who is telling the story and it has more changes than the Charlie Sheen-Brooke Mueller altercation. Supposedly Coach Leach was “punishing” James by forcing him to sit in the dark shed for 3 hours. Leach & the Texas Tech trainer said that since James needed to stay out of bright lights due to the concussion, it was good for him to stay in the shed. At the end of the day, it seems pretty obvious that James was a slacker, his dad was overreacting, and Leach should have had the kid in the training room, not isolated in some equipment shed. Everyone is in the wrong on this one.
Leach has always been entertaining and quirky (remember his “fat little girlfriends” quote?), but probably went over the line with this one. But memo to the James family - couldn’t you come up with a better way to handle this? Did you really need your daddy to whine to the administration? Couldn’t you and your dad have a meeting with Leach and the coaching staff away from the spotlight to figure it out? And if you’re not happy, then transfer. All of these seem like better options than making it the lead story on ESPN, separating James from his teammates (many of whom probably like playing for Leach), and putting a stain on his potential future pro value (if he had any to begin with). Just seems like a situation where neither side really thought through their actions very well.

Everyone is all riled up about the Colts laying down for the Jets on Sunday. Yes, the Colts laid down easier than one of the Kardashians for a pro athlete. Coach Jim Caldwell followed the Colts philosophy that was given to him by Bill Polian - get prepared for the playoffs. The Colts earned the right to do whatever they wanted in the final two games by winning their first 14 - they don’t owe the league, the history or the fans anything. They earned the right to throw Curtis Painter in at QB, where he was more rattled than a Tiger Woods voicemail.

The real question is if Caldwell can now get his players to channel the disappointment and anger they feel - because let’s face it, they all wanted to go for the undefeated season - and use that energy to fend off the Chargers and Patriots to get to the Super Bowl. They’re going to need it because the Chargers are playing better than anyone else in the league and the Patriots appear to be rounding into form.

The last week of the NFL season has a ton of compelling storylines as teams jostle to get into the playoffs or better their seeding. The only teams that are locked in their spots are the Colts, Chargers and Saints. Everything else is up for grabs. In the NFC, the 6 teams are known, but 3 of the teams could still end up with the #2 seed. In the AFC, there is a mess with a mix of scenarios based on who wins and loses. But the Jets and Ravens can play their way in by beating the Bengals & Raiders, respectively. If the Patriots beat the Texans earlier in the day, the Bengals will have nothing to play for and will likely rest their starters against the Jets. That would mean that the Jets, after losing at home to the Falcons (without Matt Ryan or Michael Turner), would benefit from back to back games against back up competition to get into the playoffs. It’s not their fault - you play the cards you are dealt. Kind of like when you’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet and you have to make a minimum of three trips…..unless you’re Rex Ryan and you make seven trips.

Interesting link on the most and least profitable teams to gamble on during the decade. I think it’s just a reminder that the lines are always slightly skewed for the big market teams. The Yankees, Red Sox, Lakers and Cubs are among the worst teams to bet on. The first three of those teams have had great overall success, and the Cubs, well…….they suck.

My weekly NFL Rankings will return either tomorrow or Friday while I recover from my hangover and watch a ridiculous amount of college football.

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