Whither the Game? Just Asking

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Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sat Dec 29, 2007 4:42 pm

On Baseball
Whither the Game? Just Asking

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/30/sports/baseball/30chass.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ei=5088&en=b2673f7a38a4fca1&ex=1356670800&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

By MURRAY CHASS
Published: December 30, 2007

Questions seeking answers in the coming months and the coming season:

Will the Twins trade Johan Santana, and if so, to whom?

Will Commissioner Bud Selig discipline any players named in the Mitchell report, and if so, who?

Will the commissioner’s office and the players union negotiate an acceptance of the recommendations of the Mitchell report?

Will one or both of the Congressional committees that have scheduled hearings for next month subpoena Roger Clemens to testify under oath?

If he testifies under oath, will Clemens continue to deny the Mitchell report findings that he used steroids?

Will Barry Bonds get a job for next season so that he can add to his record total of 762 home runs?

Will Bonds go on trial on perjury and obstruction of justice charges? And if he is tried, will he be convicted? And if convicted, will he watch the World Series on a prison television?

How much of an inroad will Alex Rodriguez (518) make in his attempt to supplant Bonds as the career home run leader?

Will Goose Gossage be elected to the Hall of Fame next week after falling short a year ago by 21 votes of 545 cast?

Will the disgraced Mark McGwire improve on the 23.5 percent he received in his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot last year?

Will the steroids zealots, those sanctimonious self-appointed judges of baseball’s steroids program, who in some cases have conflicts of interest in their commercial positions, accept baseball’s testing and discipline guidelines?

Will the Mets acquire a front-line starting pitcher, pacifying their critics who don’t believe they have enough pitching to win their division?

Will Pedro Martínez make a solid return to the Mets’ rotation and ease the criticism that the Mets don’t have enough starting pitching?

Will the Mets get so desperate for an established starting pitcher that they will trade José Reyes?

Will Reyes make Mets fans forget his collapse in the final month last season?

Will the Mets make their fans forget their September swoon and re-establish their credibility as contenders?

Will Joba Chamberlain start the season as a Yankees starter or remain in the bullpen, setting up for Mariano Rivera?

Will Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy be in the Yankees’ starting rotation, and will they perform as advertised?

Will the Yankees trade one or more of those three pitchers for an established starter?

Will Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, who liberated himself from George Steinbrenner’s iron thumb, clash with Hank Steinbrenner, his new boss, over player personnel decisions?

Will Joe Girardi manage the Yankees to the postseason for the 14th successive season?

Will Joe Torre, relocated in Los Angeles, continue his string of postseason appearances, or will he revert to the managerial status he held before he became the beneficiary of George Steinbrenner’s money?

Will Lastings Milledge mature and blossom among the cherry blossoms in Washington?

With Dontrelle Willis and Dan Haren having been traded this off-season, will any other front-line starting pitchers be traded?

Will Willis’s new environment in Detroit inspire him to rebound from the worst season of his five-year career?

Having added Miguel Cabrera and Édgar Rentería to their lineup and Willis to their pitching rotation, will the Tigers let any other American League team near the World Series?

Will the Red Sox win their third World Series in five years after having won none in 86 years?

Will the Marlins and the Rays get new parks, or will Florida continue to be a baseball wasteland?

Will the National League have its first 20-game winner in three years?

Will the N.L. win the All-Star Game for the first time in 12 years and gain home-field advantage for the pennant winner for the first time under the six-year-old format that links the game to the World Series?

Will the newly anointed Tampa Bay Rays, having exorcised the Devil from their name, win more than 70 games for the first time in their 11-year history?

Will the Baltimore Orioles end their streak of losing seasons at 10, which makes them one of four teams in history to have 10 consecutive losing seasons after a first-place finish?

Will the Pirates suffer their 16th consecutive losing season and tie the 1933-48 Phillies for the record for incompetence?

Parlez-Vous Baseball?

By his own description, Bill Smith was a “bad backup catcher” on the Hamilton College baseball team. “I knew I was in trouble when we had a doubleheader at Union College and it was a cold blustery April day and the other guy caught both games,” said Smith, the general manager of the Minnesota Twins.

All right, Smith didn’t become a baseball player, but he did become a baseball executive and a unique one at that. He may be the only general manager who majored in French in college.

“Hamilton was a great liberal arts school,” said Smith, class of ’80. “I decided I wanted to learn a language. I also realized the only way I’d succeed at that was to major in it.”

Smith also wanted to spend a semester abroad, and the language education would help him do that. He spent the spring semester of his junior year in the Loire Valley of France.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I was with a great group of people.”

The next group Smith spent time with worked in baseball.

“The winter meetings were in Toronto in 1979, and I took a bus from Clinton, N.Y.,” he said. “I spent five days there. It was reading period before final exams, and I tried to explain to my professors that it was job related. They weren’t buying it.”

Honest, Professor, it was job related. The commissioner’s office had started an executive development program, hiring two college graduates a year, and Smith received one of the internships in the second year.

“I spent a year in the commissioner’s office and then moved to the White Sox organization,” Smith said. That started him on his way to the general manager’s job with the Twins.

Smith, who said he was a “big believer” in a liberal arts education, has only one regret about majoring in French.

“If I had known what I was going to do, I would have taken Spanish,” he said. “It would have helped me a great deal more. I’ve spent the last 12 years going to Latin America quite a bit. But French has helped me learn Spanish.”

Seeking Common Ground

It’s an old Jewish joke told by Jews among Jews: Put three Jews on a committee, and they’ll have four different opinions.

That’s where baseball in Israel seems to be right now. There’s last summer’s league, there’s a new league that has been announced, there’s an independent businessman who isn’t thrilled with either one and there’s a group of former advisers to the original league who want to resolve the mess and emerge with one strong, viable league.

The mediators include Dan Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel and commissioner of the Israel Baseball League; Marvin Goldklang, a limited Yankees partner and owner of several minor league teams; and Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economics professor.

They hope to get everyone together for a meeting in New York next month.

“Everybody thought the league was a wonderful concept, but serious divisions developed,” Goldklang said. “We have tried to develop an approach under which those who are interested in continuing the league can come together and support a common approach based on a much sounder business plan.”

The Israel Baseball League is about $1 million in debt. Its founder, Larry Baras, the Boston bagel entrepreneur, isn’t likely to be able to operate the league next summer. Jeffrey Rosen, who was Baras’s first investor, has announced the creation of the Israel Professional Baseball League.

That’s exactly what the Goldklang group wants to avoid, starting a new league without settling the chaos left by the original.

Further muddying matters is the relationship between Rosen and Jeffrey Royer, a Canadian investor in the original league and a general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Royer and Rosen are reluctant to meet for their own reasons.

Along with the Goldklang group, Buddy Lewis, whose Nokona Athletics Goods contributed the league’s equipment last summer, wants to see the problems resolved.

“Everybody believes that the notion of baseball in Israel is fantastic and it can be a reality,” Lewis said. “It only means everybody pulling on one rope.”

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:50 pm

Fred Smerlas and Pete Shepperd on WEEI believe the league has ordered refs to make all possible calls against the Pats. And yet they still manage to win.

how do idiots like that get permission to be on the air?

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:40 am

Ups & downs
Link|Comments (0) By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff December 30, 2007 03:00 AM

A look at who's up and who's down from the Patriots' win over the Giants:

Up
# Tom Brady -- Another remarkable performance, as he calmly leads the team back from a 12-point second-half deficit, finishing 32 of 42 for 356 yards and two touchdowns. His 65-yard bomb to Randy Moss was a sensational throw.

# Stephen Gostkowski -- Kicker comes through in tight spots, hitting on all three field goal attempts -- from 37, 45 and 37, all in the first half.

# Laurence Maroney -- While he hasn't been a major presence on the goal-line this season, he runs hard in close to finish with two touchdowns. The total numbers -- 46 yards on 19 carries -- don't reflect the value of the performance.

# Randy Moss -- His costly penalty aside, receiver totals six catches for an even 100 yards and two touchdowns. His 65-yard catch, which came immediately after another bomb to him was incomplete, changed the course of the game.

# Offensive line -- Unsung unit hangs tough against relentless Giants pressure. The Giants enter the day as the NFL's leader in sacks (52), but get to Tom Brady just once.

# Wes Welker -- Breaks the franchise single-season record for catches in a season early in the game, and finishes with 11 receptions for 122 yards.

Down
# Defense -- At first glance, it's challenging to pinpoint one area for the breakdowns that led to 28 Giants points. Eli Manning looked more like his brother Peyton in finishing 22 of 32 for 251 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception.

# Kickoff coverage -- Unit comprised of Kelley Washington, Eric Alexander, Ray Ventrone, Pierre Woods, Larry Izzo, Antwain Spann, Brandon Meriweather, Larry Izzo, Heath Evans, Rodney Harrison and Mel Mitchell surrenders a return for a touchdown.

# Benjamin Watson -- In shaking off some early rust after missing time with a left ankle injury, he drops two first-half passes.

SUNDAY PLAN: Patriots coach Bill Belichick is scheduled to hold an 11:30 a.m. conference call. We'll also take a look at the snaps played by offensive skill position players.
Tom's take
Link|Comments (0) By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff December 30, 2007 02:43 AM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Comments from QB Tom Brady's post-game press conference:

Can you go back through the deep pass to Randy Moss?
"Yeah, I wish I would have made a better throw on the previous one. I just didn't get enough on it. It was a third-down play, third-and-10, and he had a 9 route, which is just a go, and they had blitzed us on the play. It's tough when Randy does that with the technique the corner played. I just tried to throw it as far as I could and it doesn't get any better than that."

It was dramatic how you both broke records on the same play. Is that special for you?
"I think what I'm most proud of is playing a playoff team on the road, and they were playing extremely hard, and down however many we were at one point and finding a way to come back and win. We did the same thing at Dallas this year. We did the same thing at Indy this year. We've been in some tough games. At Baltimore, we were down quite a bit and we really rallied back and showed some mental toughness and some character and it's hopefully prepared us for what we're going to face next month. Everyone's going to enjoy this one. This happens once every 35 years. We'll celebrate for a couple of days, then get ready to go back to work."

Can you comment on the pressure of being undefeated?
"Well, I think Coach has kept us pretty grounded. He's not so concerned with records and stuff like that. He's most concerned with us putting our best out there each week. The veterans have responded and brought some of the younger guys along, and they're played well. It's really been a group team-type effort. Some days the offense has played really well, and some days the defense had really played well. I'm just glad we did enough to win today. Mike [Vrabel] getting the ball there at the end on the onside kick, I was standing right there, and I was pretty excited for a regular season game."

Could you have ever dreamed you'd throw 50 touchdown passes in a season? At what point did you realize it was possible?
"It's the God's honest truth, I never thought about it or tried to play any differently than what I've always tried to do. It's just try to find the open guy and get him the ball. [Offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels has done a great job, and obviously the way the receivers have played, the way the offensive line has protected. We've been sacked so few times, with as many times as we throw the ball, and it's because the receivers get open, the line protects well, and we're running the ball better now. I'm just proud of the way we played, and more than any individual record, which to me is just not as important as what I've experienced in the last seven years and what I experienced tonight. I love throwing 50 touchdowns because that means we scored 50 times and we scored a bunch of other touchdowns to break other scoring records, so that's cool for the offense to share in that. The defense, too, because they're getting us the football. Those are all great achievements and I'm just excited to be part of them. They're great. It's been a great team to play for, it's been a lot of fun."

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:41 am

Bill's reaction
Link|Comments (0) By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff December 30, 2007 12:58 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick opened his post-game press conference with the following statement:

"That was some way to finish the season today. It is really exciting to be a part of this football team and what these guys did today. All the credit goes to the players. They stepped up and made a lot of outstanding plays at crtical times in the game, especially there in the second half and in the fourth quarter. They came through like they have all year. It's a great feeling and now is the time to take a day or two and appreciate what this team has done. But at the same time, we have our biggest game of the year coming up and we are going to have to be ready for that. I don't know who it's going to be against but that team will be a good football team no matter who it is.

"In the meantime, we are going to take a little bit of time and enjoy this one and feel good about what we have accomplished. Pretty soon we are going to have to turn the page and move on, but I am happy for the players to win and I know we have set a lot of individual records and so forth and so on, so without getting into all of that individually, I would like to thank all those players for their individual accomplishments and for their collective accomplishments. The Giants are a good football team, they are headed to the layoffs like they should be and I'm sure they'll do a good job. They have a good football team. They are well coached and certainly gave us all we can handle tonight."

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:44 am

Harrison says Giants players and Plaxico are Dirty

From Boston Herald
http://bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?articleid=1063576

“I’m going to tell you, we saw it on film,” Harrison said. “It wasn’t no secret. They push, they hit late, they come at you and try to take you out. That’s the way they play.”

Harrison was steamed at the end of the game after getting cut. It appeared to be receiver Steve Smith, but afterward Harrison was more interested in Burress.

“Plaxico was going for my knees,” Harrison said. “They’re a big, physical group, but sometimes I feel they go overboard.

“Plaxico was trying to cut my knees, take my knees out. There’s no room for that. But with that type of intensity, that type of atmosphere, you’re going to have that.”

Talk about Dirty when Vince Wilfork poke at Jacob's eyes.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:53 am

Sean Avery is a big mouth and pest, but he's the ultimate winner

BY JOHN DELLAPINA
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Sunday, December 30th 2007, 4:00 AM
Sean Avery Sipkin/News

Sean Avery

Brendan Shanahan has been in the NHL for 20 seasons. He has played in 1,622 regular-season and playoff games with and against hundreds of players.

But when asked how often teammate Sean Avery does something that shocks him, Shanahan replied: "Almost every game. A lot of the things he does and says, I would not ever do to my worst enemy."

That said, Shanahan is the guy who endorsed Avery to Rangers' management when Glen Sather was looking for a spark to rouse his team last season. And Shanahan is at the head of a long line of Rangers who are card-carrying members of the Sean Avery fan club.

"Whatever he does is fine with me," Jaromir Jagr said. "He backs up whatever he says. ... He knows I like him as a hockey player very much. I've told him that many times and he knows that."

Their personal sensibilities aside, how could any Ranger not love having Avery on their side? In a sport in which individual statistics are among the last things players point to when assessing their colleagues, there is one stat associated with Avery that nobody dares underestimate:

Going into last night's game at Toronto, the Rangers were 27-11-7 with Avery in the lineup and 8-10-3 in games he's missed since his acquisition from Los Angeles on Feb. 5.

"Yeah, he does make a difference," Chris Drury said. "Just look at the games he's been back - we've definitely been a different team."

After missing 10 games following wrist surgery, Avery returned for last Sunday's game vs. Ottawa. The Rangers controlled much of the play in that 3-1 loss and then were as physically relentless as they have been all season in a 4-2 victory over Carolina Wednesday.

It might sound absurd that one largely unaccomplished player could have such an impact on an entire team that includes two Hall-bound 600-goal-scorers, two big-ticket free-agent centers with championship pedigrees and a franchise goalie working on his third Vezina finalist nod. But no Ranger denies the power of Avery's influence.

"He's definitely a spark - he stirs it up," said Scott Gomez. "My rookie year (with the Devils) I just sat there and watched Claude Lemieux piss people off to the point where you just said, ‘Oh my God, they're going to kill him.'

"He's like Claude Lemieux that way. They bring it every night. So they can do whatever they want. I mean, what can you say to a guy that brings it every night? You have to respect that. And yeah, we are a different team when he's in our lineup."

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:54 am

(Page 2 of 3)

Said Shanahan: "I think it's pretty obvious. He's a good player. And he's an element that's pretty unique in the NHL - a guy that has an ability to help our team, but also, when he's not helping us, he's often distracting the other team. . . . Sometimes, he gets an entire team off its game.

"But what people overlook is his style and mouth and physicality don't upset teams as much if he's not as good a player as he is. So the fact that he also kills penalties and takes a regular shift and is usually on the power play, that's what really bugs you."

Drury says he has never been around a player of their ilk who has made a bigger difference.

"Not to his level, no - certainly not on the ice, everything he brings," Drury said. "His emotion, the energy. He finishes his checks like no one I've ever seen. It's almost like his last two steps before a hit are more explosive than his first two steps. When he gets into guys, it's like a defensive back catching a guy coming across the middle. He just seems to explode into guys and they go flying - their helmet, their gloves.

"He shows up every single day ready to compete. And that rubs off on a lot of guys. Night in, night out, he's there. And day-in, day-out in practice."

Of course, such a daily dose of abrasiveness from a teammate can wear thin. But Shanahan said that a little perspective from the rest of the Rangers and a little personal growth by Avery have kept dressing-room problems under control.

"I think he's maturing and still learning as a player and I think he realizes he's got an opportunity here," Shanahan said. "Yeah, every once in a while there will be a little Sean Avery mini-fire in the room with someone. And I'll just say, ‘This comes with the package. His behavior on the ice is not an act. This is him. This is the real him.'

"So whether it's playing his music too loud in the weight room or going to his own arbitration hearing, he's a fighter. He's confrontational. And you don't get what he brings to you on the ice without accepting that this is his personality. But I do think that coming here, he's been a good teammate and he's grown up a lot."

Tight fit
The recent mutual observation society involving scouts from the Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets raised anticipation that a deal might be imminent. But the Rangers' best course of action is to hold off as long as possible in case a big bang is required at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Coming into this season, the Rangers had approximately $1.6 million worth of room under the $50.3 million salary cap. They have since cut some corners - demoting Thomas Pock to Hartford and going with fewer than the max-allowed 23 active players much of the season - to free up about $600,000 more.

Actually, the Rangers are about $450,000 over the cap in total salaries and bonuses they're committed to paying this season. But a clause in the CBA allows bonuses such as Shanahan's $2.8 million for games played and playoffs to be deferred against next season's cap. So any salary-adding move the Rangers make this season will handicap them next season.

Head scratcher
Other than a willingness to bring them back before it's really safe, why would any team deny that a player who has been knocked unconscious suffered a concussion? The Carolina Hurricanes became the latest club to play that seemingly silly game of semantics after Matt Cullen was knocked cold in a collision with Colton Orr Wednesday night at the Garden.

According to MayoClinic.com: "If a blow to your head has knocked you out or left you dazed, you've had a concussion." Sounds pretty clear.

Hall yes!
With John Davidson, Emile Francis and Colin Campbell on the selection committee for the Hockey Hall of Fame, will one of the three nominate Mike Richter for induction with the Class of 2008? Richter's career numbers might not scream for the honor. But brilliant big-moment work in '94 and '97 with the Rangers and '96 (World Cup) and '02 (Olympics) for Team USA certainly does.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:57 am

Regular-season finales might provide stages for 2008 QB plans
Pasquarelli
http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insider/columns/story?columnist=pasquarelli_len&id=3170946

Sunday, Jets QB Chad Pennington (left) and his former head coach Herman Edwards (right) will be on opposite sidelines as Edwards' Chiefs visit. But could the pair, seen above in 2005, be reunited?

This season could rank as the most unstable for quarterbacks since the NFL implemented the 16-game schedule in 1978.

Teams have used 61 different starters, and that number is set to rise in Week 17.

But maybe even more distressing than the fact that the league's 32 teams will have used 62-64 different starters in 2007 -- if the number reaches 63, it will be the all-time high for a non-strike season since 1978 -- is that the tumult certainly will carry over into the offseason for many teams.

By even a conservative count, more than one-third of NFL franchises will venture into the offseason with their quarterback situations for 2008 unsettled. And that's part of the reason why, for some teams, what might appear to be otherwise meaningless games this weekend will take on additional import.


Example: There is little more than pride at stake when the New York Jets play host to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon at Giants Stadium. But for Jets coach Eric Mangini and his predecessor, Herm Edwards, who is now the Chiefs' coach, the contest represents one last opportunity this year to assess the work of young quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Brodie Croyle, respectively.

It's a last chance to gather data on the two youngsters who had been viewed as the so-called quarterbacks of the future for their franchises; now, though, they're under scrutiny because of uneven performances in starting opportunities in 2007. This game is the final audition for the quarterbacks and the final test, under live conditions, for the coaching staffs to assess them in the crucible of an exercise more challenging than, say, a springtime seven-on-seven passing drill.

Edwards said this week that, looking forward, he sees Croyle as the Kansas City starter in 2008. But he said the same thing this past spring, went to camp in the summer with Croyle atop the depth chart, and then pulled the plug after the preseason games and opened the year with journeyman Damon Huard as his No. 1 guy.

It could well be, in a touch of irony, that the starting quarterback of Edwards' short-term future at least is actually the starting quarterback of his recent past. Chad Pennington, the eight-year veteran and former league passing champion whose already suspect arm strength has further waned because of two rotator-cuff surgeries, will stand across the field from his former boss on Sunday afternoon.

With a scheduled base salary of $4.8 million for next season, and having seemingly worn out his welcome in New York, it could be that Pennington will be reunited with Edwards for the 2008 season.

The Jets will own a top-five selection in the 2008 draft but have been loathe to make the kind of investment it takes to sign a quarterback chosen that high. So they will spend much of their early offseason perusing videotape of Clemens, and just as much of it contemplating how to proceed at the game's most critical position.

And they won't be alone in undertaking such a critical evaluation and deliberation process.

The Oakland Raiders, for instance, guaranteed $31 million to JaMarcus Russell when they made the former LSU star the top pick in the 2007 draft. Because of a protracted contract negotiation, Russell missed all of training camp and the preseason, has played just 73 snaps in three appearances as a rookie, and finally will make his debut as a starter in Sunday's season finale against San Diego.

Can coach Lane Kiffin go into the offseason confident that Russell, with so little exposure in a rookie campaign that barely scratched the learning curve, is ready to assume the starting role in 2008? And if Russell isn't ready, then who starts for the Raiders, since the two most experienced quarterbacks on the current roster, Daunte Culpepper and Josh McCown, are both eligible to move on as unrestricted free agents?

In Miami, new executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells has perhaps even fewer options for 2008, but he does own the top overall pick in the draft.

Of course, as the San Francisco 49ers might attest, that doesn't always ensure success; Alex Smith, the first player selected in the 2005 draft, regressed this season before suffering a shoulder injury that prematurely ended his campaign. The 49ers' brass might be forced to make a call between Smith and head coach Mike Nolan, who seems incapable of coexisting with his young quarterback and who appeared to undermine him at times this season.

In other league precincts, there are going to be similarly difficult decisions, tough calls that will have to be made to ensure that the quarterback carousel in 2008 doesn't spin as wildly out of control as it did this season.

The Carolina Panthers, so far the only team in the league to have used four different starters this season, will hold their breath that the ligament surgery performed on Jake Delhomme in September heals his throwing elbow.

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt will have to choose between a rehabilitated Matt Leinart and an aging Kurt Warner. Minnesota coach Brad Childress has hinted that, while he likes the potential of Tarvaris Jackson, the second-year pro needs to make a big jump forward in his third NFL season.

Their rhetoric aside, the Philadelphia Eagles might have to make a decision on Donovan McNabb; despite his protests, McNabb certainly seems weary of the close scrutiny in the country's toughest sports town.

Atlanta, Chicago and Baltimore each have been through three starting quarterbacks this season, and none appeared to be the answer for those franchises.

Few general managers and coaches want to go through a season like 2007 again. Assuming that Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh sits out the season finale at Baltimore to heal for the playoffs, only 11 quarterbacks will have started every game for their respective teams. Which is why the offseason figures to be a busy one, with teams attempting to somehow solidify a position which was anything but stable in 2007.

Around the League

• Losman trade bait? Since some scouts say there isn't a quarterback in the 2008 draft pool worthy of top-10 consideration -- and that includes Brian Brohm of Louisville, Boston College's Matt Ryan and Kentucky's Andre' Woodson -- it might be tough for teams to bolster the position in the offseason.

[+] Enlarge
J.P. Losman

George Gojkovich/Getty Images

J.P. Losman's tenure in Buffalo seems near its end.

The pool of veteran free agents is hardly impressive, either. This could mean that the Buffalo Bills -- who feel they got a real steal in Trent Edwards, a third-round pick in the 2007 draft who has been unspectacular but solid in posting a 5-3 record in his eight starts -- might be able to generate interest in former starter J.P. Losman on the trade market.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:57 am

Assuming the Cleveland Browns keep Derek Anderson for at least one more season and don't dangle him in trade talks aimed at freeing up the position to move Brady Quinn into the starting role in 2008, Losman might be the best young talent available.

Philadelphia could shop McNabb and find plenty of interested teams, but any franchise vying for him figures to be a playoff-ready team seeking the final piece of the puzzle.

The Bills' first-round pick in the 2004 draft, Losman regressed this season, demonstrating questionable decision-making before he lost his job to Edwards. But the four-year veteran still has upside; he'll turn 27 in the spring, right about the time the offseason trade moratorium ends. Losman is athletic, has a pretty strong arm and made strides in 2006, when he started 16 games.

He certainly isn't going to be content sitting behind Edwards again in 2008. Buffalo overachieved this season, and while the Bills have a nice nucleus of young players, they need to make a big leap forward to somehow close the gap with New England in the division. Using Losman as trade bait could land the Bills some additional draft choices, rid the franchise of a player who no longer wants to be there, and provide a young quarterback with some still-developing talent a welcome change of scenery and a chance to fulfill his potential elsewhere.

• Parcells' housecleaning: Now that Parcells is officially on the ground in Miami, having arrived Thursday and observed the team's practice as it prepared for the season finale against Cincinnati, don't expect it to be too long before The Tuna begins enacting change with the Fish.

Linebacker Joey Porter observed that players and coaches alike were "nervous" as Parcells viewed the practice session, and well they should be. While Parcells will be deliberative and thorough, he isn't going to drag his feet in beginning to alter the culture of a team that is lacking in a lot of areas.

Expect the first changes to come in the front office. Despite suggestions that Parcells will retain Randy Mueller, the Dolphins' general manager could be among the first casualties -- maybe as early as next week.

In fact, word is that first-year coach Cam Cameron might have a better chance than Mueller of surviving what figures to be a pretty significant purge. Then again, if you're Parcells or anyone else, you've got to wonder why Cameron wasn't trying to get rookie quarterback John Beck some snaps in the second half of Sunday's loss at New England.

Beyond being physically ineffective, starter Cleo Lemon made some abysmal choices. His failure to give up his body and lay out on an attempt to score on a fourth-down scramble when he ran out of bounds inches shy of the goal line should have been reason enough to yank the guy.


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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:59 am

Dallas defection rumors: Hard to say which is more preposterous -- the notion that the Cowboys kept wide receiver Patrick Crayton away from Parcells by signing him to a four-year contract extension on Thursday night, or that The Tuna will be interested in plucking Julius Jones from Dallas when he is an unrestricted free agent in March.

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Patrick Crayton and Bill Parcells

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Patrick Crayton (left) is staying in Dallas and his former head coach Bill Parcells will be looking elsewhere to rebuild the Dolphins receiving corps.

There have been suggestions that Parcells was poised to raid his former employers, to snatch up their free agents when they became available, but in the cases of Crayton and Jones, nothing could be further from the truth.

When Parcells was in Dallas, he viewed Crayton as a No. 3 wideout, nothing more. For openers, there was no way that Parcells, even as much as he needs to upgrade the talent in Miami, would have given a No. 3 wide receiver a $6 million signing bonus, as the Cowboys did as part of a deal worth $14 million, to keep Crayton off the unrestricted market. Plus, Crayton didn't enjoy playing for Parcells and wanted to stay in Dallas.

As for Jones, well, he didn't enjoy his time under Parcells, either. And Parcells never embraced the tailback, who was constantly the subject of trade rumors when he was under The Tuna. The one pending Dallas unrestricted free agent in whom Parcells might have some interest is left offensive tackle Flozell Adams. And Parcells, while he needs to fix the Dolphins' blocking unit, isn't going to overpay for a 10-year veteran who turns 33 in the spring.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:59 am

• Deep rookie LB class: It isn't a position that gets much interest, but the crop of middle and inside linebackers that entered the NFL this season has been an exceptional one, starting with Patrick Willis of San Francisco, the league's leading tackler and the presumptive Rookie of the Year.

Drafted out of the University of Mississippi, Willis has been exactly as advertised, a tackling machine who authors game-changing plays, and a defender who is going to play in a lot of Pro Bowls. Included in the standout rookie class is Jon Beason of Carolina, who moved into the middle when Dan Morgan went down and who could make the Panthers' oft-injured starter expendable. And David Harris of the Jets, who is a far better fit in the 3-4 than Jonathan Vilma, the man he replaced.

Because of Harris' play, the Jets might market Vilma in the offseason to 4-3 teams seeking an upgrade at middle linebacker and willing to take a chance that Vilma's knee woes were addressed successfully by his recent surgery. In addition, Paul Posluszny of Buffalo looked like the real deal before suffering a season-ending injury. Teams have done a nice job of filtering in good, young inside linebackers over the past three or four seasons, and this year's contingent is no exception.

• Tough calls for Jets: Beyond the previously mentioned quarterback decision, the Jets' youthful brain trust faces several tough calls in the offseason.

Look for general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini to make some staffing changes, beginning with the defensive coordinator post, where incumbent Bob Sutton is believed to be in jeopardy. And the Jets have some high-priced veterans whose futures likewise are in doubt -- such as wide receiver Laveranues Coles and defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, who has never been a comfortable fit for the 3-4 front Mangini prefers.

The offensive line needs fixing, and there is a general need for more speed on both sides of the football. Many observers said the Jets' wild-card berth last season was a bit of a mirage, and New York certainly has slipped this season (3-12) after winning 10 games last season.

The Jets will have to make wise decisions in using their top-five draft pick and in addressing a sizeable laundry list of concerns.

• For whom will Bell toil? One of the more mysterious career plummets in recent history is that of linebacker Kendrell Bell.

The seven-year veteran candidly conceded to the Kansas City Star this week that the season finale will mark his last game in a Chiefs uniform. His NFL tenure is general is in jeopardy at age 29. Bell was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2001 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a second-round pick who played inside linebacker and was named to the Pro Bowl squad in his debut season.

The former University of Georgia star, Bell had nine sacks as a rookie and, in his second season, then-Steelers coach Bill Cowher decided to move Bell outside on passing downs to rush the quarterback. Bell was never the same player in that role, though, and he appeared stiff and somewhat unathletic. And then injuries began to get the better of him, as well.

The New York Giants almost signed Bell as an unrestricted free agent in 2005 before then-general manager Ernie Accorsi got scared off by lingering shoulder problems, backed away and snatched Antonio Pierce from the Washington Redskins instead. It turned out to be a fortuitous move for Accorsi.

And for Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson, who subsequently signed Bell and awarded him a contract that included about $10 million in guarantees, it turned out to be a disaster. This is Bell's third season with the team, and he has basically become an afterthought; he didn't even dress for four games this season. After his nine sacks as a rookie, Bell has only 11 ½ sacks in the six seasons since.

Bell was an ill fit in the Chiefs' 4-3 alignment, and there are doubts as to whether he can contribute anymore even in the 3-4 scheme that first tabbed him as a perceived rising star in the league.

• Schottenheimer return to KC? On the subject of the Chiefs, there are rumblings -- and they are presented here as nothing more than such -- that former Kansas City head coach Marty Schottenheimer could return to the franchise in a front office capacity.

Peterson, who serves as president and general manager, is under contract through the 2008 season, and strongly has suggested in the past he could retire at the end of the deal. So if there are any legs to the rumors about Schottenheimer and his return, it could be tied to the fact Peterson might be a relative short-timer. There is also a chance that assistant general manager Billy Kuharich, a seasoned and much respected personnel man whose name has been whispered in some other spots, might be a candidate to replace Rich McKay as the Atlanta general manager.

As for the talk that the Falcons are interested in talking to Schottenheimer about their head coach vacancy, well, owner Arthur Blank has yet to make contact with him. And Schottenheimer is telling people that, unless the situation is an ideal one, he can't see himself returning to the sideline.

• Dunn is not done: Falcons tailback Warrick Dunn, one of the league's classiest players, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week that he does not plan to retire and wants to play again in 2008.

Dunn, who turns 33 next week, is distressed over what he termed a "wasted" year in the failed regime of former coach Bobby Petrino, and doesn't want his career to end on such a dismal note. But it remains to be seen if the new football regime that Blank installs wants Dunn around as much as the owner -- who is fond of the veteran tailback and admires his charitable endeavors and social consciousness -- probably does.

Because the Atlanta running game design changed so dramatically in 2007, with Petrino scrapping the zone-blocking scheme of the past and installing a more physical, helmet-on-helmet approach, it's difficult to evaluate Dunn and his dwindling numbers. The 11-year veteran has carried 216 times for 648 yards and three touchdowns, and his 3.0-yard average is distressingly low.

How distressing? Dunn could become the first back since Eddie George in 2001 to log 200-plus carries in a season and finish with an average of 3.0 yards per rush.

In a Nov. 4 game against San Francisco, Dunn had his high-water mark for the season, rushing for 100 yards, but it took him 27 carries to reach the century mark. The following week, against Carolina, he rushed 26 times for 89 yards. In the six games since, Dunn has 68 attempts for only 167 yards, an anemic 2.45-yard average.

In 1999, with Tampa Bay, Dunn averaged just 3.2 yards per rush, but logged only 195 carries. In 2001, his final season with the Bucs, he had 158 carries and posted a career-low average of 2.8 yards. If Dunn has a bad day against Seattle in Sunday's season finale, he could dip below the 3.0-yard average.

And if that occurs, he will become the first back since Marion Butts in 1994 to get 200 or more carries in a season and average less than 3.0 yards per run. Playing for the Chargers in 1994, Butts averaged just 2.9 yards on 243 attempts.

• Changes in store for Bengals: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis tried this week to debunk the rumors that, in the wake of another disappointing season, he is poised to make changes on his staff, notably on the defensive side of the ball. That said, it's hard to fathom that Cincinnati can maintain the status quo given the disastrous results of this season.

[+] Enlarge
Dexter Jackson and Madieu Williams

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Veteran defensive backs Dexter Jackson (left) and Madieu Williams might not be wearing Bengals' colors next season.

There are reports that Lewis wants to overhaul the personnel department, to augment the scouting staff, and perhaps gain more control over roster decisions. Certainly the Bengals lack talent on the defensive side. But the unit hasn't exactly been "coached up" either, and part of that responsibility must lie with Lewis, who earned his stripes as a defensive coordinator.

The Bengals currently rank 27th statistically in total defense. In Lewis' five years, the unit has never rated better than 19th, and this will be the fourth season in which Cincinnati has been in the bottom quadrant of the league -- 28th in 2003, 28th in 2005, 30th last season and 27th this year.

The Bengals have suffered some misfortunes, like the neck injury that figures to end the career of linebacker David Pollack and the league-imposed suspension of middle linebacker Odell Thurman, but other clubs have better compensated when faced with such setbacks.

Lewis has three seasons remaining on his contract and owner Mike Brown certainly isn't going to dismiss him. But this is a team that needs to demonstrate progress in 2008.

One sign of optimism is the recent play of the young secondary, where first-round cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall have demonstrated progress, and where rookie safeties Chinedum Ndukwe and Marvin White are coming off terrific performances in last week's victory over Cleveland.

The tandem played well enough in its first start together that the Bengals almost certainly will part with veteran starters Madieu Williams and Dexter Jackson after this season. Once considered a rising star, Williams' play has slipped the past couple years, he's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, and Cincinnati probably won't make much of an effort to keep him. Jackson has two years left on his contract, at base salaries of $1.3 million for 2008 and $1.5 million for 2009, and is expected to be released.

• More Morris instead of Alexander?: There is a feeling in some league circles that, for Seattle to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs, and actually mount a threat to Dallas and Green Bay in the NFC bracket, the team has to feature Maurice Morris more than Shaun Alexander at tailback.

Seattle will need to be more two-dimensional offensively in the postseason, and Morris is simply a better back than Alexander now. Also, the whispers persist that coach Mike Holmgren might step aside after this season to pursue some of the non-football interests of which he has spoken in the past. If that is the case, assistant head coach Jim Mora probably would have a decent shot to succeed him.

• Strategic roster moves: In a maneuver designed to retain the rights to some promising youngsters for training camp next summer, more than two dozen players were elevated from teams' practice squads to active rosters in the final two weeks of the season. How come?

By doing so, clubs retain exclusive negotiating rights to the players, meaning they can't move on. Players who finish the year on practice squads become free agents immediately at the end of the season. Rather than lose some of them, clubs prefer to sign them to the active roster for the final game or two. They can then keep them, and at a minimum base salary, for the following year.

• The list: Despite a minus-2 point differential, with 285 points scored and 287 points surrendered, the Tennessee Titans can earn the final AFC wild card berth with a victory at Indianapolis on Sunday night.

So it's possible that with a one-point victory at the RCA Dome, the Titans can go to the postseason for the first time since 2003 while allowing more points than they have scored.

But advancing to the playoffs with a negative point differential isn't as unusual as it sounds. In fact, 27 teams have done so since the 16-game schedule was implemented in 1978, and that includes two franchises, Seattle (minus-6) and the New York Giants (minus-7), in 2006.

Here are the team with the 10 worst point differentials to advance to the playoffs since 1978: Rams, 2004 (minus-73); Steelers, 1989 (minus-61); Cardinals, 1998 (minus-53); Falcons, 1978 (minus-50); Oilers, 1989 (minus-47); Bears, 1994 (minus-36); Broncos, 1983 (minus-25); Jets, 1986 (minus-22); Eagles, 1995 (minus-20); and Raiders, 1993 (minus-20).

• Stat of the week: You've got to like LaDainian Tomlinson's chances of winning a second straight league rushing title.

For starters, the San Diego star leads runner-up Willie Parker by 102 yards, and the Pittsburgh tailback is done for the season with a fractured fibula. The league's No. 3 rusher, Adrian Peterson, trails Tomlinson by only 113 yards, but the Minnesota rookie has just 108 yards on 45 carries his last three outings.

Finally, and perhaps most important, Tomlinson concludes the season on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, a defense he has basically owned during his seven seasons.

In 13 appearances versus the Raiders, who rank 31st in defense versus the rush and have surrendered an average of 147.6 yards per game, Tomlinson has 341 carries for 1,653 yards and 16 touchdowns. That includes a 198-yard, four-touchdown performance in the teams' first meeting this season on Oct. 14.

Tomlinson has eight games of 100 rushing yards or more, and has run for 150-plus yards on five occasions, and 180-plus yards three times. For good measure, Tomlinson has 49 catches for 246 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders, and he has also thrown three touchdown passes.

• Stat of the weak: In his last three games, two of which were victories, Giants quarterback Eli Manning has completed just 42 of 99 passes for 514 yards, with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, and a passer rating of only 57.4.

Manning has been sacked six times in that stretch and has only two completions of longer than 19 yards. His 42.4 percent completion rate is troubling. But the number that perhaps might reflect his struggles more than anything else, and one that many scouts feel is the most critical statistic for a quarterback, is yards per attempt, where Manning has averaged only 5.19 yards in the three games.

• The last word: "It'll be like the State of the Union address. You can flip to every channel and see it." -- New England coach Bill Belichick on the three-network simulcast of the Patriots' regular-season finale against the New York Giants on Saturday night

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:59 am

With 16-0 in books, now the real work begins for Pats
Pasquarelli

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com
(Archive)

Updated: December 29, 2007

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Tom Brady and Richard Seymour

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Tom Brady and the Pats completed a remarkable regular season, but the real journey is just beginning.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For those fortunate few people who achieve perfection in any walk of life, often the more difficult pursuit than completing the task is figuring out what to do for an encore.

Not so, though, for the New England Patriots, who in the wake of Saturday night's 38-35 comeback victory over the New York Giants left little doubt that they understand that registering the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history is only the first step toward reaching their goals.

There is, the players noted, still a big-picture agenda to be further addressed. Records, both individual and collective, resonate a lot more when there is a Super Bowl ring to validate them. So while most of the veteran players conceded they were drinking in the locker room atmosphere that accompanied Saturday's victory, the champagne is still on ice and awaiting a fourth championship in seven seasons.

More on Perfect Patriots

HASHMARKS: Check out Matt Mosley's coverage from East Rutherford. Blog

VIDEO: The Pats' Richard Seymour says the focus is now on the playoffs. Video ESPN Video

ZOOM GALLERIES: Check out the top images from Saturday's 38-35 win over the Giants. Photos | Pats' 2007 season

PURSUIT OF PERFECTION: All you need to know as the Pats chase the mark set by the Super Bowl-winning 1972 Dolphins. Pursuit

WORK REMAINS: At least one member of the '72 Dolphins thinks the Pats aren't their equals just yet, reports Elizabeth Merrill. Column

"It's special," said quarterback Tom Brady, whose record-breaking 50th TD pass of the season, a 65-yard bomb to Randy Moss, completed a rally from a 12-point deficit midway through the third quarter. "But we've won three Super Bowls. And as good as this feels, I think we all know that it's not the real goal that we've set for ourselves.

"We kind of know what's ahead of us out there."

What is behind the Patriots, several players noted with relief, is arguably the greatest single season in league history. The high-octane New England offense established new NFL records for points and touchdowns, Not only did Brady break Peyton Manning's single-season TD pass mark, Moss eclipsed Jerry Rice's TD receptions record with his 23rd score.

But that was essentially the opening act, one for which the curtain was raised more than three months ago with a win in this same Giants Stadium, over the New York Jets. The Patriots, even stoic coach Bill Belichick, allowed that they will take the luxury of a few days off to bask in their boffo reviews. But then work begins on the playoffs, and the pursuit of true perfection.

New England, of course, owns homefield advantage through the entire AFC side of the playoff bracket. And the Pats are already established as heavy favorites to win Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3. Anything less than a Super Bowl win will be more than disappointing. It would be, said linebacker Adalius Thomas, absolutely devastating.

"When I came here [as a free agent] in the spring, it was to win a Super Bowl," said Thomas, the Patriots' most notable offseason acquisition on defense, after twice notching Pro Bowl honors in seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, "I mean, never do you think, 'Well, maybe I'll sign with New England because that's a team that has a chance to be undefeated.' I mean, honestly, how could you allow yourself to even think that. So the whole 16-0 thing, while it's great, it didn't become a goal of ours until these last few weeks. Everybody knows what we're after."

Still, even Belichick, who barely registers a pulse in most of his post-game assessments, seemed a bit emotional over having completed the 16-0 run. As the media awaited Belichick's arrival, a loud cheer emanating from the Patriots' locker room could be heard. Belichick declined to discuss the particulars, but players said there was a solid display of sentiment for their usually dispassionate leader.

Belichick did concede that, winning the 16th game at Giants Stadium, where he had worked a combined 12 seasons as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator for the New York Giants and New York Jets, had special meaning. What was left unsaid was that Giants Stadium is also the site of the video spying incident from the season opener, arguably the nadir of the New England season but also a moment that became a rallying point for the team.

The mere suggestion that the Patriots' accomplishments might somehow be tainted seemed to galvanize the roster, and steeled the determination of New England players to venture where no other club had gone.

"No matter what anybody says about us, it can't [tarnish] what we've done, and can't diminish the accomplishment, not at all," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "It stands on its own. There's only one thing that can be a blemish on this season, and that's if we don't finish what we've set out to do. Then all of this wouldn't mean nearly as much. This is just one chapter of the book on this season. But, yeah, it's a heck of a chapter, huh?"

And it was, to the credit of a Giants team that played hard in a game that did not affect its No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, a heck of a game.

For much of the week, debate centered on whether Giants coach Tom Coughlin would or should play all of his starters. In the end, doing so might have weakened New York for the playoffs, since the Giants may have lost at least two starters, center Shaun O'Hara and weakside linebacker Kawika Mitchell, to serious injuries. But the Giants did all they could to detour history, and led 28-16 in the third quarter before Brady led the Patriots to touchdowns on three drives in a four-possession stretch.

The biggest score was the 65-yard bomb to Moss with 11:06 left in the game. Moss got behind a "trap" coverage by the Giants, when Aaron Ross rolled up and strong safety James Butler was left to cover the deep left half of the field. Just one snap earlier, Moss had beaten the New York secondary by several yards, his route set up by a nifty Brady pump-fake and aided when a defender fell down. But the pass from Brady was underthrown and Moss couldn't get back to it.

There was no coming up short, though, on the touchdown play, as Brady hit Moss in stride and the Patriots grabbed a lead they would not surrender.

For the night, Brady, forced into a horizontal-type passing game much of the contest, and with his offensive line struggling against a Giants' defense that leads the league in sacks, completed 32 of 42 passes for 356 yards, with two TDs and no interceptions. It was not, as Brady and Belichick and several Patriots players emphasized, a perfect game by any stretch.

But it was enough to leave the Patriots perfect through the regular season and three victories shy of fulfilling all the goals they set back in training camp.

"It was kind of a tricky game," Brady said, "because it really didn't mean too much, but it also meant a lot. The games that mean the most, though, are still coming."

And as a coach who always views life as the challenge that still lies ahead, not the accomplishments already checked off on the to-do list, Belichick was already hammering home that point Saturday night.

"Our players came through just like they have all year," Belichick said. "I'm happy for them. They're happy, and they should be. ... At least for a little while."

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:08 am

#

Do NFL refs hate Tom Coughlin? I know I can’t stand to look at him. Maybe the refs want to see how red his face can get? Whatever it is, the NFL officiating is a joke. They are a bunch of part time bankers and lawyers that can’t be trusted. I trust NBA refs more than NFL refs.
#
MarBro456 — December 29, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

Well, it’s over. All of us who bleed GIANT blue can be proud. A hard fought, well played game by all. The replacements looked good also. That 4th quarter nose dive I blame more on officiating turning he momentum more than I do the Giants. Alas, now that it is over now… All the ones who bleed baby blue(Not the team color, just watered down version) can come out from hiding in the closet and start about stupid Tom Coughlin and Lousy Eli, and blame everything on them. Now we can hear from the watered down version of Giants fans about how the Giants will lose next week because we played starters, and how Eli was just SOOOO awful(lol) this game. I prefer to hold my head high, and think that maybe we knocked the Pats down a notch and put their Superbowl run in doubt. Giants, stand tall and be recognized, all others just stand there looking stupid.
#
Brandon Buchanan — December 29, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

MarBro456-

Well said
#
Cosmo D — December 29, 2007 @ 11:43 pm

As a Giants fan living in Portland Maine (Patriots country), I am proud to say that this Giants team showed a lot of heart tonight. They showed the country what a good footbal team they can be. If they can get a decent offensive coordinator and one more decent wide receiver they can be awesome. Toomer is done and Smith needs to step up. I also like Boss much better than Shockey. He has the talent but not the mouth and disruptive nature.
#
Punit Vachharajani — December 29, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

Guys, I really feel for you. I was rooting for the Giants all the way, and I was really upset when it became obvious that the Pats were going to win. Hard fought game by the Giants anyway, they just couldn’t close the deal.
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MarBro456 — December 29, 2007 @ 11:55 pm

Thank you Brandon. I just like to look on the positive side of things. Sometimees reading peoples comments on here, it sounds like we couldn’t beat a peewee team if it accidentally got locked in. The comments can bring you down and put doubt in your heart sometimes. But I am STILL proud to be a Giants fan.I know we’ve been on top before, and at some point we will be again. It’s not like we are the cardinals or something.(Man, I wish they were still in our division) I always looked forward to those two easy wins most years.
#
boooojaaaa — December 30, 2007 @ 12:00 am

Moss held and tripped on the same play and there was no call. Oh well Boston is still a bunch of racist p—— and wasp snobs. If we had Bradshaw available we wouldve won he is weapon X. happy holidays everyone.
#
MarBro456 — December 30, 2007 @ 12:08 am

I do hafta ask though: what is up with the Patriots WR’sblocking styles? Is it not illegal to fall and roll on the defensive players lower legs? That’s the only blocking style I saw from Moss

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Thoughts on Giants-Pats

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:10 am

Thoughts on Giants-Pats

1. Best game of the season, seriously, by far. Great effort by the G-Men, even momentarily seemed to be in control. But the way the Pats came back, my goodness, even a bitter Jets fan can't criticize.

2. Can we just pronounce Brady the greatest of all-time? When he tried to force it on 3rd downs to Moss twice in Giants territory in the first half, I almost couldn't believe the guy. He's laughing on the sideline after kicking the FG. Was it arrogance, or did he just realize he could score at will when needed? The latter. The way he dissected the Giants late, it was almost indifferent. Like a nuisance, something he had to do. The man is not human. Can you think of another QB who throws the bomb to Moss again on 3rd down after it failed on 2nd down??? I was as shocked by that play as any I've ever seen in the NFL. Brady has balls.

3. Kevin Faulk. Unsung hero of all-time. He just does it year in, year out. Round of applause for this guy. Wes Welker is Chrebet with speed too. Shame on Miami for letting him go.

4. How do we feel about NE's D after that game? Myself, I'm a little concerned if I'm a Pats fan. They struggled to get pressure on Eli for much of the game, and Hobbs is almost David Barrett-like at times with his coverage. Harrison looks old. Meriweather is a massive bust. The Pats secondary is highly questionable, can the Jags and Colts expose it?

5. Stop complaining about the officiating, seriously. Sounds like sour grapes. The Giants had every opportunity to win or stop the Pats. They couldn't do either. I'd like to think as a fanbase, Jet fans aren't as pathetic as the casual NFL msg board fan. Pats won fair and square.

6. Giants will be 1 and done (fingers crossed!). Talk about a team that expended everything for nothing. TB has to be licking their chops, they have ZERO pressure now, since every NFL analyst/fan will be picking the Giants to win next week. The egg the Giants lay is almost pre-ordained. I give the Giants credit for making the Pats work this week, but lets be honest. When that game mattered, the Pats outscored them straight up 38-21. Yes, there was the special teams TD, and the garbage time TD late. Can any Giant fan expect that effort 2 weeks in a row? They're doomed, much like every other Pats opponent the week following a good effort against the Pats. No one respects the Bucs at all, since basically at most 5 people have even seen the Bucs play this year. I can't wait to win money on this spread (Giants -1 at least).

6. Go Jags! They are the team that can beat the Pats. They can pound the ball, Garrard can make plays, and they are not intimidated in cold-weather spots.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:14 am

To all of you who were all over me for wanting Coughlin not to play any starters… we are down our starting LB and our starting CB is out with a stomach injury. It was obvious from the get go that the refs were going out of their way to hand this one to the Pats so was it all worth it? And even when he’s playing great, Eli will still have 2 turnovers including a boneheaded one that will cost the Gs the game. I guess he must take after his mother’s side

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:26 am

I'm a lifelong Dallas fan in the pacific northwest so I am used to the hatred and distain for my team. Here in Seattle people are visibly upset that I am not a huge Seapukes backer and wonder why I'd ever like the Cowboys.

The quantity of posts here chirping about the "cheating" and asteriks wah wah wah is similar to the venom Dallas fans have had to deal with for years. You guys have joined the small club of elite franchises and from here on out you'll have to deal with the ignorant haters who root for crap teams.

Enjoy the trolls and the lame threads/posts trying to minimize your team's accomplishments. They're bitter jealous dooshs who like to whine about anything.

Tom Brady rules all.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:34 am

The Patriots have me up at 3:45 in the AM
I can't take it. I went to bed tonight right after the game hoping to get 7 hours of sleep before tracking down to the Meadowlands in the morning but after waking up at 3 and tossing and turning for 45 minutes, I figuered it useless to remain in bed. I kept listening to The Fan and hearing Giants and Patriots fans talk about the game and it just makes me sick and I just couldn't fall back to sleep.

The Giants, like the Ravens, Eagles and Colts before them, had every chance to win this game but in the 4th quarter their offenses sputtered. I hate the f'ing Patriots and thanks to them am now up before 4am and I don't have to leave here for another 3-4 hours. Joy oh f'ing joy.

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:35 am

they certainly have zero class

I'm sure Garb will tell you otherwise

Poking guys in the eyes... no penalty

Hitting late OB no penalty and penalty goes to Gints HAHA

I counted at least 10 Holds by OL, no calls

they call a tickty tac illegal contact on Gints on 3rd and 10 when cindy
got sacked

Pretty sad day for NFL IMO

RedMagma

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Re: Whither the Game? Just Asking

Post  RedMagma on Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:49 am

Should they stay or should they go now?
McShay

By Todd McShay
Scouts Inc.
(Archive)
Insider

Updated: December 28, 2007, 2:20 PM ET

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The Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2008 NFL draft is rapidly approaching and the clock is ticking for those still on the fence.

On one hand, what's the rush? The NFL isn't going anywhere. Title runs, individual records, improved draft stock and diplomas are just some of the temptations tugging players back to campus. But on the flip side, how many jobs offer six-, seven- or eight-digit paydays fresh out of college? Needless to say, this can be a grueling verdict to make for a young man.

As is the case this time each year, plenty of rumors are swirling but few final decisions have actually been made. But here is an underclassman scorecard that I will update weekly until the NFL releases the official list. In addition to tracking those staying and going, this list will provide a brief scouting report on those prospects still on the fence.

Note: All heights, weights and 40-yard dash times are unofficial.

Going

Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
6-foot-1½, 203 pounds, 4.45 40-yard dash
His production dipped a bit during the 2007 season, but he still possesses a first-round combination of athleticism and toughness. Phillips should extend Miami's streak of 13 consecutive years with at least one player selected in the first round.
Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round.

Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville
6-5½, 218, 4.65
Urrutia made a surprising decision following an injury-plagued 2007 season. He is a big receiver with playmaking ability on jump balls, but struggles to separate and his routes need polishing.
Draft projection: Fourth round.

Johnny Dingle, DE, West Virginia
6-3, 270, 4.80
The former Florida transfer notched 46 tackles and a team-high eight sacks for West Virginia in 2007. The 23-year-old defensive tackle will likely need to make the transition to end in the pros.
Draft projection: Fourth to fifth round.

Franklin Dunbar, OT, Middle Tennessee State
6-5, 325, 5.30
Dunbar is an unpolished talent with a great frame. Financial hardship played a major role in his decision and he could warrant late-round consideration as a developmental prospect.
Draft projection: Late rounds or free agent.

Staying

Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin
6-4, 228, 4.55
The undersized tight end made a wise decision to return to school. Beckum could easily become the first tight end taken in the 2009 draft by improving bulk and strength.

Brian Cushing, OLB, Southern California
6-4, 243, 4.60
A versatile outside linebacker; Cushing could play Sam in a 4-3 scheme or rush linebacker in a 3-4 at the next level. A healthy and productive senior season should land Cushing a spot in the first round of next year's draft.

Sean Lee, OLB, Penn State
6-2, 232, 4.65
Like Paul Posluszny (Bills) and Dan Connor, Lee can show NFL scouts more versatility by moving to inside linebacker as a senior.

Rey Maualuga, ILB, Southern California
6-2½, 251, 4.68
Maualuga is arguably the most naturally gifted of USC's trio of future first-round linebackers. He also is the least polished of the three, which makes his decision to return to school a wise one.

Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
6-3½ 310, 4.96
Sims is a quick and powerful defensive tackle that notched 3.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries in his first season as a full-time starter in 2007. He could land a spot in the first round of the 2009 draft if his overall technique improves as a senior.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas
6-1, 203, 4.35
Charles should be well-served by returning to school for his senior season. The speedster came on strong down the stretch and led the nation in fourth-quarter rushing yards. Another year to improve his bulk and strength could land Charles a spot on the first day of the 2009 draft.

Kevin Smith, RB, UCF
6-1, 212, 4.50
Smith burst onto the scene as the nation's leading rusher this fall. He could improve his draft stock to the first- or second-round range with a similarly productive senior campaign in 2008.

On The Fence

Offense

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri
5-10, 225, 4.70
Biggest pro: Dual-threat ability.
Biggest con: Marginal height.
Draft projection: Third or fourth round.

Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
6-2, 212, 4.40
Biggest pro: Exceptional athleticism.
Biggest con: Relatively slender lower body
Draft projection: Top five.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
5-11, 233, 4.50
Biggest pro: Combination of burst and power.
Biggest con: Durability.
Draft projection: First round.

Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
6-0, 202, 4.45
Biggest pro: Speed/versatility.
Biggest con: Can he handle the load?
Draft projection: Late first round

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
5-11, 225, 4.55
Biggest pro: Physical running style.
Biggest con: Lack of elusiveness.
Draft projection: Late first or second round.

Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
5-9, 197, 4.55
Biggest pro: Natural running skills.
Biggest con: Small frame for featured back.
Draft projection: Second or third round.

Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia
5-10, 196, 4.43
Biggest pro: Speed/versatility.
Biggest con: Size/toughness.
Draft projection: Second or third round.

DeSean Jackson, WR, California
6-0, 179, 4.35
Biggest pro: Open-field running.
Biggest con: Bulk/durability.
Draft projection: Early to middle first round.

Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
6-4, 217, 4.50
Biggest pro: Strong hands.
Biggest con: Disappears at times.
Draft projection: Middle to late first round.

Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
6-0, 188, 4.45
Biggest pro: Vertical pass-catching ability.
Biggest con: Not physical enough yet.
Draft projection: First or second round.

James Hardy, WR, Indiana
6-5½, 218, 4.58
Biggest pro: Exceptional package of size and athleticism.
Biggest con: Off-field baggage.
Draft projection: First or second round.

Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt
6-1, 205, 4.50
Biggest pro: Route-running skills.
Biggest con: Lacks second gear in open field.
Draft projection: Second round.

Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
6-1¾, 215, 4.45
Biggest pro: Big-play potential.
Biggest con: Inexperience.
Draft projection: Second round.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
6-6½, 250, 4.75
Biggest pro: Impressive speed for frame.
Biggest con: Not as naturally athletic as straight-line speed would indicate.
Draft projection: Second round.

Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri
6-5 7/8, 249, 4.75
Biggest pro: Reliable hands.
Biggest con: Not as explosive as college production indicates.
Draft projection: Second or third round.

Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida
6-4, 235, 4.65
Biggest pro: Natural athleticism.
Biggest con: Bulk/strength as a blocker.
Draft projection: Second or third round.

Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
6-6, 317, 5.15
Biggest pro: Combination of frame and feet.
Biggest con: Lacking explosive power.
Draft projection: Mid-first round.

Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
6-5, 323, 5.15
Biggest pro: Combination of size, feet and strength.
Biggest con: Unpolished technique.
Draft projection: First or second round.

Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
6-7½ 340, 5.25
Biggest pro: Natural athleticism for his size.
Biggest con: Inexperience as juco transfer in 2007.
Draft projection: Second round.

Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
6-5, 335, 5.30
Biggest pro: Mauling run-blocker.
Biggest con: Range in pass protection.
Draft projection: First or second round.

Defense

Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
6-3 5/8, 255, 4.65
Biggest pro: Combination of power, quickness and motor.
Biggest con: Smaller frame.
Draft projection: First round.

Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
6-4½, 250, 4.65
Biggest pro: Athleticism for his frame.
Biggest con: Bulk and strength versus the run.
Draft projection: First round.

Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
6-7 5/8, 279, 4.80
Biggest pro: Frame.
Biggest con: Struggles to beat the double team.
Draft projection: Late first or second round.

Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
6-5, 289, 4.75
Biggest pro: Versatility; can play power end in 4-3 scheme and/or five technique in 3-4.
Biggest con: Top-end speed.
Draft projection: Late first or second round.

Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
6-6½ 255, 4.55
Biggest pro: Explosive closing burst, especially for his frame.
Biggest con: Inexperienced.
Draft projection: Third round.

James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
6-2½ 244, 4.55
Biggest pro: Versatility.
Biggest con: Needs to become more consistent versus the run.
Draft projection: Top 15.

Erin Henderson, OLB, Maryland
6-2½ 240, 4.65
Biggest pro: Range versus run and in coverage.
Biggest con: Taking on blockers.
Draft projection: Late first or second round

Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
6-1, 203, 4.45
Biggest pro: Playmaking instincts.
Biggest con: Lacks ideal quickness in and out of cuts.
Draft projection: First round.

Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
6-1½ 201, 4.50
Biggest pro: Ball skills at CB, WR and RS.
Biggest con: Turning and running versus faster receivers.
Draft projection: First or second round.

Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
5-10, 190, 4.40
Biggest pro: Consistency in man-to-man coverage.
Biggest con: Lack of ideal size.
Draft projection: First or second round.

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.

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