Saturday, October 30, 2010

I gave the NBA one shot this season. I wasted my time.

We've talked about this before. I talk about it a lot, as it turns out. But in case you've missed all of the other conversations, here's something you should know about me: I love basketball, but I don't like the NBA. I'm pretty open about that. I've done my best to perpetuate a rumor that watching it causes pink eye. I do my best to avoid it.

But, once each year, I give it another shot. I know a handful of pretty smart, likeable sports fans who love the NBA. I've never understood what they see in it, but once each year I do my best to be open-minded and see if there's something I've been missing.

Last year I sat through two Bucks games, sucked in by the hype that followed Brandon Jennings' 55 point performance. This year, inspired by a TV slate that featured nothing else of interest, I sat down Friday night and watched the Bucks-Timberwolves game.

The Bucks lost this game, sleepwalking to a double-digit loss against a team that won 15 games last season and hasn't won more than 33 games since 2004. In the middle of the game, though, my in-laws stopped by and we had this exchange:

I notice Ersan Ilyasova has checked into the game.
ME: Ersan Ilyasova is the embodiment of everything I hate about the NBA. He's sloppy, selfish, he takes terrible shots and he's defensively worthless.*
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Which one is he?
Ilyasova catches a pass on the perimeter and immediately jacks up a three that barely draws iron.
ME: That's him.
At the other end of the court Ilyasova picks up his fourth foul, in the first half.

* - I've watched him play three times over the last two seasons. I suppose it's possible I've just seen him at the wrong times. But man, has he ever been awful when I've seen him.

See you next year, NBA.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Is Why They Invented the Word "Shit."

I haven't FJMed in a while, so I'm probably out of practice. But His Admiralty directed me to this schlock from onmilwaukee.com's Dave Begel -- and, hell, let's get this out of the way right now, Dave: you MIGHT want to come up with a byline pic that doesn't make it look like you're huddled in your basement with the lights off, hiding from your wife, with only the glow of the computer screen to keep you warm -- but I digress.

The topic of this screed is Brett Favre, and why he's a "legend." I think. I'm not sure, and I've read it four times. Maybe you can help me.

This was why they invented the word "legend."

I thought the word "legend" was invented for the Will Smith vehicle "I Am Legend." I mean, it's right there in the title of the movie: he is legend. Brett Favre, on the other hand, is an overpaid, overcovered, and (apparently) underhung quarterback for a bad football team.

But, more to the point: the Vikings lost on Sunday. Seems like kind of an odd time to be crowing about the "legendary" exploits of Minnesota's quarterback, no?

Brett Favre was not the best quarterback on the field Sunday night when Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers exorcised their demons by beating Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, 28-24.

Shit, Dave, I think there's a strong argument that Favre wasn't even the second-best quarterback on the field on Sunday. I mean, did you see the ball that Matt Flynn threw to the uncoordinated, fourth-string tight end whose name I can't remember?

But he was the only one who had his hands wrapped around our hearts.

I know what you want me to do: you want me to say, "Better that he had his hands wrapped around our hearts than around his hoo-hoo-dillie." And, ordinarily, I would say just that. But we have to stay on task, people. There's nonsense to dissect here.

Forget Ted Thompson.

Um. OK.

Forget the Jets and the Vikings.

Sure. Done.

Forget the texting and sexting and little boy voicemails.

Little boy voicemails? Is Brett Favre going to be on To Catch a Predator?!? My tittles are lated here, Dave, but, with the expectation that you're going somewhere with this: Fine. They're out of mind.

Forget all of that crap because none of that really matters.
What matters is that with all the odds stacked against him, with the fury of 80,000 people raining down on his shoulders, with one leg, one arm, gray hair, and with time running out, he almost did it again.

Oh. So you do remember that the Vikings didn't win. You just decided to construct a column around the premise: "Brett Favre is a legend because his team almost won." That's sensible. Or: you're desperately trying to win eyeballs for your site by taking a preposterous -- and barely-comprehensible -- position.

One or the other.

The ball was snapped, he dropped back and he fell down. But in an apt metaphor for his legend, he got back up, stepped up and threw a bullet into the end zone again. This one was high. Just high. Barely high.

Six feet over Moss's head high.

And, just so we're clear: the "apt metaphor for his legend" -- and, briefly: what the fuck? A "metaphor for his legend"? Perhaps you meant vignette, or something along those lines -- is an incomplete pass?

And this is a good thing?

You're sure you want to keep going down this road? It's not too late to turn back. I can still see the fork in the road, back there near Bat-Shit Crazy Boulevard. No? You're good?

That [sic] the thing about him. He played a game for two decades with a sense of wonder and wonderful adventure. His failings made us love his success even more.

His failings caused the demise of two (2) remote controls, one (1) beer mug, and put a sizable dent in my closet door. (I threw a shoe.) Other than that, I didn't get a whole lot out of his failings, and they certainly didn't lead me to conclude: "This guy is a legend!"

He never quit.

Minor quibble: he quit twice.

Not almost never. Not almost never. Never!


All of a sudden, this turned into a scene out of a bizarro H.M.S. Pinafore:

Did he almost quit?

NOT ALMOST NEVER!

What, not almost never?

NOT ALMOST NEVER! NEVER!

That's what a legend is.

So, on the list of "Things a Legend Is," we've now got:

(1) Someone who never quits. Not almost never. Never.

If this is the primary criterion, then I would like to point out that I never quit my grocery bagging job in high school. Not almost never. NEVER. I am a fucking legend.

There is a reality to all legends and there is a myth to them as well. Brett Favre has a ton of reality and several tons of myth.


Add to the list, re: "Things a Legend Is":

(2) Someone who has "a ton of reality and several tons of myth."

While working at the grocery story, I once used a skid jack, an empty Minute Maid jug, and a block of Mild Brick cheese to stop a runaway grocery truck. Management was so grateful that I was given a lifetime supply of the foodstuffs of my choice. I selected cheese-filled microwaveable pretzels, grape Juicy Juice, and Mr. Goodbars.

Fucking. Legend. This guy.

Let us never forget that the most hallowed name in the long history of the Green Bay Packers turned his back on the team and left them to go to the Washington Redskins. His name was Vince Lombardi.

No, thanks. I had lunch today. No red herring for me.

So, too, should it be for this flawed quarterback who gives us thrills and chills even when wearing the uniform of the enemy.

That's why they invented the word "legend."

I've spent all my bullets, so I turn to a trusted source for the final word:

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Favre's Final Act has No Magic


As a Packers follower since my days of wearing diapers, it's clear Brett Favre is wearing out is welcome as a professional football player in the NFL. It's clear as day that last year's fantastic run to the NFC Championship game was really, the FINAL ACT. On Monday night, undernear the Sunday night Lambeau BigTop, a dark cloud seemed to floating above the once beloved #4. Perceptions of this Packer hero has become shrouded in questionable actions within the last several years. As a football player however, the fade into an average quarterback, is becoming strikingly clear. I saw a player who once could will mediocre/average players (i.e. Don Beebe, Antonio Freeman, Javon Walker to name a few) around him like he did in the 1990s and 2000s with the Packers, and find a way to get the "W". He was always finding a way because of his remarkable ability to improvise, scramble, and throw laser-beam touchdown passes that would culminate in two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl Ring. However in 2010, it's clear that Brett should have stayed home on his tractor. Last years magic is gone. He can't scramble. He can't improvise. He can't even use the fantastic weapons that the Vikings have around him, to make it happen (AP, Harvin, Moss). It's a sad end. It's a jaded end to an era that still has many questions to answer as all of these are on field issues with playing the game of football must be answered in the final 10 games. Brett Favre has lived and died on the field as a gun-slinger and love him or hate him, it will be interesting to see how the show ends.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ok, I've digested the Miami game.....

And I think it might be worse than we thought. Again, the defense does a respectable job but this "potent" offense can't muster up more than 20 points. So what gives? I'm seeking answers from my viewers because aside from Baffoon, everyone here seems to disagree with my analyses. In addition to my previous thoughts regarding the running game, I am going to throw out another theory in hopes of stirring up the pot even more.......and I'm guaranteeing controversy here. So again, what gives? Answer....

Aaron Rodgers isn't who we thought he was!

That's right I said it. In watching the last 2 atrocities, I've noticed a different Aaron Rodgers. He no longer looks like the confident, sling it all over the field QB that he did in the second half of last year. His throws aren't nearly as accurate, he doesn't look downfield like he used to, and as a whole he doesn't look as comfortable in the pocket as he did last season. Rodgers gets hit a couple times and it seems like it affects his psyche so much that he's more concerned about the pressure than what's opening up down field........thus he's missing open guys and holding onto the ball too long, which in turn leads to sacks and a number of holding penalties on the offensie line.

Am I saying he's no good? No, not at all. I simply think that we jumped the gun at giving him this "elite" status before he really earned it. He put up good numbers last year, no doubt, but it wasn't until the O-line got shored up and the running game got going that ARodg really started tearing up opposing defenses. Currently, Rodgers is 20-18 as a starter, 7-13 (35%) when facing teams with a 0.500 record or better (1-7 on the road, 6-6 at home!), 0-1 in the playoffs, and worst of all........0-2 against Brett Favre! I think that this last one is key. The majority of Packer fans have such a distaste for Brett Favre that they essentially are giving ARodg a pass, meaning he's untouchable. As I stated, I do think the Rodgers is a good QB and I hope he will continue to be behind center for many years, however I don't think that he is the guy that we can just put the game on his shoulders and win alot of games (ala Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees). I predict that if the running game continues to be as woeful as it has been, ARodg will continue to struggle and the offense will sputter. If that is indeed the case, considering the competition that Green Bay will be facing the next 3 weeks (Vikings, @Jets, Cowboys), they could very well be 3-6 heading into their bye week. Sunday night could answer alot of these questions as Rodgers will again play Favre and that physical Viking defensive front. It should be interesting and I hope ARodg proves me wrong.

I hope my intuitions are completely off base and I'm sure many of you will disagree. Let the games begin.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm sure there will be plenty of other reactions here to a second straight overtime loss

But while we wait for those, I present you with this thought:

The over-under for today's Packers-Dolphins game was 44. After one quarter, the score was 10-7, and the two teams were on pace for 68. When the Dolphins hit the field goal to make it 23-20, the total combined score was 43, one point away.

The people who set these lines are pretty good at their job.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just Speechless!

Can anyone explain to me what is going on with the Packers? And don't tell me injuries either. Defensively, sure we are decimated, but we only gave up 13 pts in regulation. If you would have asked me if Green Bay won while allowing Washington to only score 13 pts in regulation I would have said yes hands down. I would probably have bet the farm on that in fact! Offensively, while we have lost Grant for the year, and lost Finley and Lee during game play today, I still don't think that that's enough of a handcuff to prevent this offense from clicking. They did move the ball 2day. Hell, they even ran the ball effectively today.......much to my surprise. So WTF? There are 2 things that I have come away with through the first 5 weeks of the NFL season regarding this team.

1. Complete Imbalance Offensively - As you all know, I have preached about the ineffectiveness of our current corps of running backs. Today, however, they surprised me when Jackson rushed for over 100 yards on only 10 carries! Kuhn even averaged 4 ypc on 4 carries. So my question is, when running the ball so effectively what's with the 4:1 ratio of pass plays to run plays? Teams realize that Rodgers is our primary weapon and we go to him on roughly 70ish% of our plays, so they are sitting back in pass coverage thus allowing big holes to run through. I know that many people think that the NFL is now a passing league, but I feel that there are only a select few elite QB's that can pick apart defenses without an effective running game (Manning, Brady, Brees). Rodgers is close, but it's obvious that the loss of Grant has really hurt our passing game's effectiveness. Further, I can't explain it, but there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency with our offensive unit. I don't know if there is just an overconfidence on their part to simply outscore their opponent at will, but they aren't converting 3rd/4th and short yardage plays, the receivers are dropping balls left and right, and even Rodgers has been prone to throw a number of picks of late.

2. Overrated? - Leading into this season, Rodgers was essentially hailed the next great Green Bay quarterback. The talking heads for giving him "elite" QB status along with Manning, Brady, and Brees. He was a hot commodity on the fantasy front and went in the first round in many drafts. To go along with this theme, the Packers were a very popular pick on a national level to represent the NFC in this year's Super Bowl. In fact, when questioned about this, many GB players used the phrase "Super Bowl or die" during interviews in training camp. And I think there were t-shirts made with this phrase and worn by some players on the team......one of which being ARodg. This makes me reminisce to the Packers of the 90's that consistently had high expectations leading into the season.....so much so that coach Holmgren banned any SuperBowl talk within the locker room in hopes of reeling in any sort of over confidence.

I don't know what the hell is going on with this team. They are 3-2, but again they have lost a game that they essentially dominated and should have gotten the W in. Further, this injury thing is really getting out of control. I don't have any answers, but injuries are no excuse, and I think there needs to be some major corrections on the offensive side of the ball. Is it McCarthy's play calling? Is it Rodger's mistakes? Is it the running game? Regardless, we now sit at second place in the Central and I suspect Minnesota isn't going to go quietly now that they have added Moss. We are now entering the tough part of our schedule with Miami, Minnesota, @Jets, Dallas, @Minnesota, and @Atlanta. I suspect we will see this team's true colors once we get through some of these "tough" opponents.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NFC Central Foes Continue With Aggressive Approach

In an attempt to salvage this season, the Vikings got aggressive and made a move to acquire Randy Moss from the New England Patriots today. After stumbling out of the gate (likely due to the injury bug that infected their receiving corps and Brett Favre's decision not to show up til late August), the Vikings look like they may be a contender in the Central again. Moss should complement Harvin nicely and at the very least be a band-aid until Sidney Rice returns in 2-4 weeks. Whether or not the Brett Favre of '09 still exists has yet to be determined.

I bring this up because I wanted to see where the Ted Thompson defenders stand at this point. In successive years, Minnesota has added Brett Favre which resulted in an NFC Championship appearance, then went out and acquired Randy Moss after they lost their top receiver to injury when Moss wasn't even on anyone's radar as a trade option at this point in the season. Like Minnesota, Chicago saw a need to upgrade their QB position after 2 decades of mediocrity and made a move to acquire Jay Cutler. Then, this past off season, they decided to strengthen their defensive front by acquiring Julius Peppers via free agency and one PHAT contract (I thought they overpaid until I witnessed Peppers essentially single handedly beat us last Monday night).

In other news, the Buffalo Bills were bluffing when they said they were happy with Lynch and weren't fielding offers because the Seattle Seahawks managed to get him for 2 mid-round picks in '11 and '12. The Seahawks? 2 MID-LEVEL Picks? Isn't this the same Marshawn Lynch that was coveted by Thompson as a potential first rounder in '07 (and by the way this is when Justin Harrell was selected)? Yes, yes it is. So the question I have is, if you have an opportunity to acquire a guy that you were willing to use your first round pick on 3 years ago for 2 mid-round picks today.......on a proven NFL player that has made the ProBowl and is still only 24 years old.......wouldn't you pull the trigger? ESPECIALLY after you lost your starting running back for the year in week 1, and your team has failed to run the ball effectively since. ESPECIALLY since Chicago has already beaten you, you narrowly escaped with a W at home against Detroit, and ARodg hasn't shown any consistency since losing our balanced offensive attack.

My point in all of this is the upper management of both the Vikings and Bears (and most other teams for that matter) are continuously looking for opportunities to get better in hopes of vaulting them past their competitors and potentially winning a title. They don't just stand pat and live off of preseason expectations. Thompson made a good call with Rodgers ability to lead this team, but I can't wrap my brain around his stubborness to give up draft picks. For every Greg Jennings, there are 5 Justin Harrell's. Ted stood around and watched the final years of Brett wash away, I hope he doesn't do the same with Rodgers. In my opinion, the NFC is ripe for the taking THIS YEAR! The only possible contenders out of the remaining NFC divisions are New Orleans, Atlanta, and Dallas......and none of these look dominant. Sure we can stand firm with what we've got and squeeze through to the playoffs, but I personally don't see Green Bay making the NFC Championship much less the Super Bowl with the way they are playing. In my opinion, the NFC Central just got tougher and I no longer expect to walk away with this division. I hope TT gets a sense of urgency soon because we are only 1 low tackle from losing Rodgers to a serious injury.

So where do the TT defenders stand today? Any change since last season?