Archive for the ‘NFL’ category

Average NFL Thoughts From An Average Fan: 9-19-12

September 19, 2012

Here we are two weeks into the NFL season and those of you who take the time to read my writings had to think that I was going to emerge from the underground sooner or later to share with you, my loyal readers, some thoughts and opinions.  I figured now as as good of a time as any, so without further ado:

Let me start with a theory…

There are many reasons why American’s love football.  The hard-hitting and highlight reel plays are a couple that come to mind.  I think I might have figured out the biggest reason why we love watching the gladiators of the gridiron.  It’s because the NFL is the greatest reality show on television.  No matter how hard you try it’s nearly impossible to figure out each team from week to week.

One week the Patriots look great, the next week they lose at home to Arizona.

The Jets score 48 points at home against Buffalo then they head out on the road and look awful against the Steelers.

Those same Buffalo Bills rebounded from their embarrassing loss in week one to hand the Kansas City Chiefs a solid thumping in week two.

Everybody was riding high on the Cowboys after an impressive week one victory on the road against the New York Giants.  In week two they fall right back down to earth in a defeat on the road at Seattle.

These are reasons why the casinos in Las Vegas continue to build new attractions and taller buildings.  These are reasons why I don’t game on the NFL.  It’s too unpredictable and with the level of parody throughout the league it’s best to just sit back and watch.

Nothing upset me more…

Than watching my Oakland Raiders just come out and fall flat on their face against the Miami Dolphins.  The way the Raiders played you would think Miami is a Super Bowl caliber team.

Dolphins running back Reggie Bush looked like he did when he was running the ball for USC rushing for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Reggie Bush is a good running back but I don’t think he’s that good.

The worst thing was watching Brian Hartline catch 9 passes for 111 yards on the same 10 yard out pattern.  I’m not an NFL coach but isn’t there some adjustment that can be made by the defensive coordinator or the defensive backs who are covering him?  For crying out loud he’s Brian Hartline, not Calvin Johnson.  If you can’t stop Brian Hartline from making the same play over and over and over again,  frankly you don’t deserve to win and the Raiders didn’t losing 35-13.

I can’t write one more word without getting this off thought off my chest…

How can the NFL talk about integrity and still have replacement officials two weeks into the season?  It’s painfully obvious that these guys have no clue what’s going on.  They’re calling penalties on plays that aren’t and failing to call penalties on plays that are.

In Monday night’s  game between the Falcons and Broncos the referees looked completely lost out there.  To paraphrase a tweet I read last night, the referees were doing their part to make sure Peyton Manning wasn’t having the worst night in the building.

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, is running a multi-billion dollar business.  Mr.  Goodell, for the love of all creatures big and small please get a deal done with the regular referees and restore integrity to America’s favorite game.

I know we’re only two weeks into the season but…

This years 49er team looks like the best team in the league.  At minimum they look like the best team in the NFC.  They are coming off an outstanding season last year in which they appeared in the NFC Championship game and so far looked like they’re ready to achieve even greater things.

It’s amazing the job  Jim Harbaugh has done 18 game into his tenure as head coach.  Quarterback Alex Smith is finally showing signs of his potential as is tight end Vernon Davis.  Their running game is as good as any in the league and their defense is scary good.  Right now I’m having trouble finding a team that can slow them down.  Maybe Green Bay, but we all saw how things turned out in week one.

Just remember that this praise is coming from a die hard Raiders fan but when a team is impressive I’m not afraid to say it, even when it pains me to do so.  My hats off to you 49ers.  So far you’ve earned it!

An NFL icon has left us…

The man behind NFL Films, Steve Sabol passed away yesterday at the age of 69 from brain cancer.  Along with his father Ed Sabol, Steve captured the pageantry and drama of every NFL game each week telling its unique story through the eyes of a camera lense and with a narration on par with the greatest of writers.  The importance of Steve Sabol’s contributions to the game of football can not be understated.  What he did for the game is as important as any player, coach or owner.

This morning I was listening to The Dan Patrick Show and DP was saying that Steve Sabol is not in the NFL Hall of Fame.  If I wasn’t sitting down I would’ve fallen over.  How is this possible?  How can you ignore what Sabol did for the game for decades?  Chances are he’ll get in sooner rather than later because of his death but I think it’s one of the biggest crimes in sports that he would acquire such an honor posthumously.

Mr. Sabol should’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame 20 years ago when he was very much alive and in good health.  Shame on you NFL and Hall of Fame voting committee for failing to recognize all the good Steve Sabol did for America’s favorite game and awarding him the game’s highest honor while he was around to appreciate it.

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Average Thoughts From An Average Sports Fan 7-16-12

July 16, 2012

As former FBI Director Louis Freeh read the findings of his report regarding the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, all I could think of was that this has to be one of the top 10 worst days in the history of sports.

Penn State University President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz all should have a special spot in prison reserved for them.  If Joe Paterno was still alive I believe he should have spent the last years of his life rotting away in a jail cell too.  No doubt Sandusky is the worst kind of human being there is.  Spanier, Curley, Schultz, and “Joe Pa” are not far behind.

I know  for decades Paterno did a lot of good things for a lot of  people, however his failure to protect the well beings of children undoes all of that in my eyes.  No longer can I  remember Joe Paterno as simply the head coach of Penn State football.  For me he is now Joe Paterno, a man who did nothing to stop child abuse of the worst kind.  Disgusting!

Now back to sports…

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in a recent interview said this year’s version of the USA Olympic basketball team could beat the famous 1992 “Dream Team” who won the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics and was lead by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and numerous other hall of famers.

I admire Kobe Bryant’s basketball abilities a lot.  If his career was over today I would definitely put him down as one of the top 10 greatest to ever play the game.  But in this case Bryant needs to put down whatever delusional inducing substances are making him talk that way and come back to reality.  I love your competitive spirit Kobe but in this case you’re just wrong.  Plain and simple.

Speaking of competitive spirit…

You have to admire the guts of Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.  The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year challenged Bryant to a one on one game.   Has Mr. Irving been taking bath salts?  Does he know who he’s messing with?

Bryant is a five time NBA champ, two time Finals MVP and former regular season MVP.  Not to mention he is currently fifth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.  He is one of the proudest men ever to play the game, and has a competitive fire that is second to none.  Although Bryant will be turning 34 this year, there is no way that he lets a young 20 something trash talker embarrass him.  Be careful what you ask for Mr. Irving because you just might get it.

In more basketball related news…

Despite trading for Portland Trailblazer point guard Raymond Felton, I can’t imagine the New York Knicks not matching the Houston Rocket’s 3 year, $25 million offer sheet for fan favorite Jeremy Lin.  Although you can argue whether it makes basketball sense for them to do so, what you can’t argue with is how much it makes sense marketing wise for the Knicks to bring him back.

Deep down New York knows they don’t have a strong chance to win a championship this season, but they do know that if they bring back Lin they have a strong chance to make even more money from ticket sales.  If you can’t win on the court, you might as well win in the financial department.

Before I go any further I must say…

On behalf of all Lakers fans I would like to thank Ramon Sessions for exercising his player option to become a free agent.  Because of your belief that you could make more money long term by doing so, the Lakers were able to make a trade to bring a future hall of famer and much better point guard in Steve Nash to Los Angeles.  Thanks again Mr. Sessions.  Your efforts were truly appreciated.  Best wishes to you in Charlotte where you’ll be lucky to win 20 games.  Meanwhile the Lakers will be competing for a championship.

On to baseball…

This Los Angeles Dodgers fan is extremely excited to keep reading they’re involved in several different trade talks to try and better their ball club, and make a second half run.  Of the various names they’ve been linked to I would most like to see them acquire Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster and Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

Dempster has pitched extremely well this season leading the majors with a 1.86 ERA while failing to allow a run over the past 33 consecutive innings he has pitched.  Moving from hitter friendly Wrigley Field to pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium would make Dempster that much better while increasing the Dodgers chances at a postseason berth.

Ramirez would give the Dodgers some desperately needed power production out of a corner infielder while providing great protection in the line up for Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.  The 34 year old currently holds a .272 batting average to go along with 10 HR,  52 RBI, 28 doubles and 50 runs scored this season.

And last but not least…

College football is under two months away from starting and the first NFL preseason games are a just a few weeks away.  Football season is almost here!  Yeah buddy!

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

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Average Thoughts From An Average Sports Fan 7-2-12

July 2, 2012

New Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry should win the “GM Of The Year” award.  Yes, I know we’re in the middle of the off-season, but what this guy has accomplished in less than a week on the job is awe inspiring.

Today Ferry pulled the ultimate jedi mind trick when he convinced Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King to take on the remaining 4 years and nearly $90 million dollars left on Joe Johnson’s over paid contract.

Who care’s who the Hawks got in return.  The fact that they no longer need to pay Johnson like he’s Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose  is reason enough for Ferry to douse himself in champagne like he just won a championship.

To top the day off, Ferry then pulls off his second jedi mind trick of the day by dumping draft bust extraordinare Marvin Williams on the Utah Jazz in exchange for point guard Devin Harris, a former all-star.  Williams and Harris make roughly the same amount of money but Harris is entering the final year of his deal while Williams still has two years remaining.

Taking on Joe Johnson’s contract is the type of decision making that GM’s should lose their job over.  If I was Mikhail Prokhorov I would call King into my office and break him off like I was Donald Trump in an episode of The Apprentice.

The NBA:  Where bad contracts happen.  For further proof of that please see the  Houston Rockets signing of Chicago Bulls Center Omer Asik to a three year, $25.1 million offer sheet.  Someone please tell me again why Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey is considered such a genius.  I’ll be sitting here patiently waiting for a worth while answer.

Is anyone else sick of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard?  I’m completely over this guy constantly changing his mind.  First he wants to get traded.  Next he says he wants to stay in Orlando and even decides to use his player option to stay for another year.  Now he wants to go to the Nets and only the Nets.  Mr. Howard, you’re a grown man who is going to make more than $18 million next season.  Quit your whining, shut up and play basketball!  Enough of you already!  To borrow a line from a tweet I read, “people can say all they want about Lebron James but at least he made a decision.”

Nice to see the Dodgers finally score some runs and pick up a 8-3 victory on Sunday over the New York Mets.  Without Kemp and Ethier this everyday line up is downright awful.  I know several of those runs yesterday were gift wrapped by New York who was doing their best Bad News Bears imitation but after all the Dodgers have been though the last dozen or so games I will take it.

In other Dodger related thoughts, getting shutout all 27 innings of a three game series against the hated San Francisco Giants has to be the darkest day ever in the proud, rich history of Dodger baseball.  It’s one thing to get swept but far worse to get shutout in all three games by your hated rivals.  I know the Dodgers count on us fans for support but could you please support us by scoring one freaking run in a three game series against the Giants?

Now that I got that off my chest, I’m excited about this new Dodgers ownership and it’s great to see them involved in player signings and trade talks again after the whole McCourt debacle.  They recently had a deal in place for Houston Astros first baseman and outfielder Carlos Lee but Lee decided not to waive his no trade clause and I’m not disappointed in the least.

At 36 years old Lee only has 5 home runs and 29 RBI through 64 games played this season.  His power years are clearly behind him and if he doesn’t have that I don’t think he does the Dodgers any good.  Although they didn’t get what they wanted, I believe Magic and company will ultimately find the right guy and it will happen sooner rather than later.

Much to the dismay of my “The Average Joe Show” co-host Joe Arrigo, i’m going to just come right out and say that right now I think Mike Trout is better than Bryce Harper.  Both players are undoubtedly legit and going to be carrying the flag for major league baseball for the next decade but the stat’s don’t lie and other than triples, Trout’s numbers are better across the board.  I know Trout has the better line up protection but at the end of the day he still has to execute and so far he has and better than his rookie counterpart.

My beloved Stanley Cup Champions (don’t think I’m not going to milk that for all it’s worth in the next year) Los Angeles Kings re-signed forward Dustin Penner to a one year, $3.25 million.  I know he was an important piece in the Kings run to their first ever championship but in the regular season he flat out sucked.  Let’s face it, Penner picked up his paycheck with a gun and ski mask.  I think $3.25 million is a bit much but I take solace in knowing that it’s just for one season.

Congrats to Spain for shutting out Italy 4-0 to take home the Euro Cup.  A great day for the Spaniards no doubt.  This American would be lying if I said I cared or watched even a minute of the tournament for that matter.  Call me in two years when the World Cup comes around because that’s the only soccer event that matters.

The NFL season is a little more than a month away with the Cardinals and Saints set to take each other on in the Hall of Fame Game on August 5.  In case there was any doubt, I am extremely excited about that.  Not for the pre-season games but to know that another football season is right around the corner.  I’m sorry but if you don’t like football you’re simply un-American.  Dare I say, even a communist.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

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Goodbye 55

May 2, 2012

There I was at work, taking my lunch break and checking out some news headlines when I read the following three words  in Yahoo’s trending section, “Junior Seau Dead”.

My jaw dropped.  I was completely stunned and in a state of disbelief.  My first thoughts were that it was of some sort of vehicle crash.  I clicked over on the topic to read the headlines on Seau’s passing.  It was there I became completely saddened to learn the early evidence was indicating that Seau’s passing was a suicide due to a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the chest.

All I could think about was the family and friends left behind to pick up the pieces of this senseless tragedy.  How could a man at the age of 43, who was not only the face of a franchise, but the face of the city of San Diego during his time with the Chargers reach such a low point that he chose to take his own life?

My thoughts and prayers to Seau’s loved ones as they try to cope with this senseless tragedy.  May all of them find the closure and peace they deserve.

Here was someone who seemed to have it all.  He had fame, fortune, a hall of fame football legacy on both the professional and college level along with a successful business.

He was beloved by thousands who never knew him on a personal level.  He touched the lives of countless football players of all ages.  By many accounts, he was a great teammate and citizen in the community.

On the field he was the epitome of how the game should be played.  Seau played with a non-stop passion and energy from opening kick off to final whistle, regardless of score.  This is the Junior Seau I will  remember as I continue to process his tragic death.

I am a Raider fan and I grew up rooting for UCLA.  As far as rivalries go I couldn’t have been more opposite of Seau.  He was always wreaking havoc on the teams I loved.  He played with a non-stop motor.  His tackles were relentless.  His enthusiasm and passion were matched by few.  Whether you rooted for him or against him (as I often did), there was no doubt that you were watching one of the greatest to every play the game.

This is the Junior Seau I will remember.  Thank you for giving us the privilege to see you play the game the right way.  Thank you for entertaining us for countless hours on both Saturday and Sunday.  Thank you for having been part of the generation of football players I grew up admiring.

Goodbye Junior Seau and may you find the peace you’re looking for.  All of us who have memories of your passionate play between the lines and your positive encounters outside of it will forever miss you.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse




A Unfortunate End To A Brilliant Era

March 8, 2012

It’s one of the toughest about things being a owner, coach, fan, athlete or anyone else who has a passion or involvement in sports.  The day that player becomes a part of your team can be one filled with excitement, joy and hope.  Along the way can be a roller coaster ride filled with the unfolding of historic plays leading to memorable victories, record setting performances, heart breaking losses and agonizing defeats.  If you’re lucky you get to experience the pinnacle of sports and that’s winning a championship immortalizing your team among the greats of history.

The era of Peyton Manning as a Indianapolis Colt experienced all of the above with the apex coming in the form of a Super Bowl XLII championship.  In the 14 years Manning wore the Colts trademark blue and white after being the number one overall pick back in 1998, he established himself as arguably the greatest quarterback of his era and a certain first ballot hall of famer when he eventually calls it a career.

Manning took the Colts from the ranks of the laughing stocks of the league to a perennial playoff team and one of the toughest forces to be reckoned with in the 2000’s.  He carved up defenses with precision like accuracy.  He made good receivers in to great ones and made great ones into pro bowlers.  His ability to play the position while practically doing the job of an offensive coordinator was unlike anything most of us have ever seen before.

But like all athletes the reality of father time began to set in.  Manning got older and the injuries, despite costing him zero games, started to take their toll.  Doctors performed three neck surgeries in a 18 month period and Manning after not missing a game in his entire career sat out the entire 2011 season while trying to recuperate from the wear and tear of a physically violent career.

When a situation like Manning’s rears its ugly head, we’re all reminded of the sometimes ugly business side of sports where everyone is replaceable and executives begin to really look at the players as dollar figures.

This was the case for Colts owner Jim Irsay.  He had to make a decision.  Commit $28 million dollars in guaranteed money to the now 36 year old Manning despite not having a clear outlook on his future ability to play the game at a high level or turn the page and bring a franchise defining era to its end.

On Tuesday, March 7, 2012 at an emotion filled conference, the Colts announced that decision.  A 14 year chapter was coming to an end and for the first time since the 1997 season, Manning would no longer grace the Colts sideline.  It was like Michael Jordan leaving the Chicago Bulls or Wayne Gretzky leaving the Edmonton Oilers.  It was a “I remember where I was when…” moment.

In a perfect world, Peyton Manning would’ve only played for one team in his career.  That would’ve been the story book, Hollywood ending to a spectacular career.  Unfortunately this isn’t a story or a movie but sometimes cruel reality.  Between the three neck surgeries, Mannings age, money saved and quarterback  prospects available at the top of the draft, the Colts absolutely made the right decision.  Not the easiest or most popular decision but the right one.

Both sides will move on.  We have not seen the last of Manning in a football uniform as he looks to usher in a new era of success for a different NFL franchise and chances are blue chip prospect Andrew Luck will achieve many years of success and establish his own era of Indianapolis Colts football as their new quarterback much like Manning before him.

As the old saying goes, “all good things must end”.  Too bad for Manning and the Colts it wasn’t when or how we all thought it would.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse





Ramblings Of A Sports Fanatic

March 1, 2012

Thank the good lord for someone like Jeremy Lin and the wave of  “Linsanity” that follows in his wake for rescuing what was a flat-out hideous NBA season (at least from an offensive stand point).  I think his story is great from being drafted out of Harvard to having been cut by not one but two NBA teams before getting a chance to play due to injuries in New York.  I love to root for guys like this.  Like his NFL counter part Tim Tebow, he is just a good person.  I don’t care about the deficiencies in their respective games.  So what if Lin commits a few turnovers or if Tebow’s mechanics need a little work?  These guys make the games they participate in more exciting and they commit awesome acts of kindness to those who’s lives they come across.  Why should I not root for guy’s like that?

Is it just me or is Carmelo Anthony the Stephon Marbury of today’s NBA?  Marbury was a really good individual talent who could not make his abilities translate into better team results.  Teams routinely got better after he left.  Denver has become a better team since they traded Anthony to the Knicks.  New York is 18-18 this season.  They’re 6-4 without Anthony in the line up including the “Birth of Linsanity” stretch in which they went 6-1 in that time with Anthony sidelined.   If you’re doing the math at home New York is 12-14 in game’s in which Anthony’s played.  Smells an awful lot like a Marbury effect if you ask me.

The Lakers are absolutely doing the right thing by rejecting a reported trade offer from Minnesota that would send them small forward Michael Beasley in exchange for the highest of one of their two first round picks in the 2012 draft.  As it stands right now LA is already over the salary cap and doesn’t need to add more to the payroll.  Now if you can get Beasley in exchange for a player or two either with or without a draft pick, that’s a different story.  First priority for the Lakers should be a point guard.  They’re getting used and abused at that position on a nightly basis.

As  Los Angeles Kings fan, I have mixed emotions on the recent trade that brought them forward Jeff Carter and sent defenseman Jack Johnson to Columbus along with a first round pick in either 2012 or 2013.  I’m excited that Carter is part of the team and I hope that he and Mike Richards can rekindle the magic they had together in Philadelphia in which the Flyers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.  The Kings had to do something to help their anemic offense so I support the move from that perspective.  I just hate that Jack Johnson had to be the sacrificial lamb.

I’m not from Sacramento and likely am never going to be a Sacramento Kings fan nor have any emotional involvement with the team.  On that note, I thought it was absolutely wonderful that both the Maloofs and the city came to an agreement on building the team a new arena in the downtown area which will keep the Kings in California’s capital city.  There is arguably no NBA city who loves their team more than the fans of Sacramento love their Kings.  Had they relocated a grave injustice would’ve been committed.

What’s up with Dwayne Wade’s foul on Kobe Bryant in the all-star game last weekend?  Hello Mr Wade, it’s a freaking exhibition game!  Not the playoffs or even regular season and unlike that stupid clause in Major League Baseball’s all-star game, home court in the finals was not being decided.

This weekend when Miami visits the Lakers I would send either Matt Barnes or Metta World Peace to and “take care of business” with Mr. Wade.  Preferably World Peace because he has played so bad all season his potential ejection for a flagrant foul would be doing the Lakers a favor.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I really miss football.

I still can’t believe that Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into one of those trucks that dry the track on a yellow flag during the Daytona 500.  That’s an incident that even Hollywood couldn’t make up.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse


Random Thoughts: The Super Bowl XLVI Edition

February 7, 2012

In my last column I thanked the New York Giants for giving me someone to root for in Super Bowl XLVI.  More thanks to them for winning the NFL’s biggest prize and keeping Patriot coach Bill Belichek and quarterback Tom Brady from getting ring number four.

It’s always a great day when the team you’re rooting for wins the Super Bowl.  It’s just as great of a day when the team you’re rooting against does not.  Now that Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone I’ll go back to not caring about the Giants one way or another and instead go back to rooting full time for my Oakland Raiders.

It doesn’t happen often so I relish it every time it does, but few things in sports are more satisfying than watching Belichek and Brady walk off the field in defeat.

Regardless of personal dislike for the Patriots I have great respect for what their organization continues to accomplish every season.  Say what you want about Belichek but the man can flat out coach.  Who else could have won 13 games and gone all he way to the Super Bowl with a roster that consisted of 18 undrafted players plus another eleven who were drafted in the fifth round or later?

Could this year be any worse for Peyton?  Not only does he miss the entire season but it ends with his brother hoisting the Lombardi Trophy while winning his second Super Bowl MVP trophy.  All of this taking place in Peyton’s house in Indianapolis.

I’m sure Peyton Manning is happy for his brother’s success but I’m guessing there’s a part of him that wishes Eli’s success stopped short of passing him up in the championship ring possession department.

Speaking of Eli, while I’ve never been a big fan of his for how he forced his way out of San Diego at the draft in 2004 I give him big props for not only not backing down from his statement before the season where he declared himself a top five quarterback in the league but for playing like one when it mattered most.

Here’s my breakdown on the Manning brothers.  I’ll take Peyton Weeks one through 16 but there’s no way I’m not taking Eli when it’s playoff time.

Wes Welker caught 122 passes in the regular season plus another 19 in the postseason.  I’m sure he would trade them all for one catch with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

While we’re talking about catches, the one by New York wide receiver Mario Manningham was the play of the game and will undoubtedly be talked about by both Giants and football fans alike for years to come.  Welcome to NFL immortality Mr. Manningham and congratulations on never having to buy your own drink in New York for as long as you live.  As spectacular as your catch was, David Tyree’s back in Super Bowl XLII was better.

I love the NFL.  It’s the one sport that I consistently plan my activities around.  In fact I think if you don’t like the NFL you must be a communist or at least Un-American.  As much as I love the NFL, I fear that the regular season might be heading towards college basketball as far as regular season relevance.  Three times in the past five seasons the Super Bowl champion has finished with a record of 10-6 or worse.  In this recent trend, you don’t have to dominate the regular season, you just have to do good enough to get to the postseason and get hot at the right time.

For the love of all creatures big and small Roger Goodell, can we please move the Super Bowl to Saturday night?  I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m tired of partying it up for the year’s biggest sporting event only to have to get up and go to work early the next day.

Lastly, congratulations to those of you that bet the first score of the game would be a Giants safety.  Cashing a 50 to 1 ticket is always a nice feeling regardless of how little you wagered.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

Thank You New York Giants And Other Thoughts…

January 24, 2012

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the first thing I need to do is thank Kyle Williams and the New York Giants from saving me from a nightmare Super Bowl scenario.  Thanks to Williams second punt return snafu leading to a New York game winning field goal in overtime I now have a team to root for in the Super Bowl.

A big thumbs down goes to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans and kicker Billy Cundiff.  Because of Evans inability to hold on to a touchdown pass and Cundiff’s best Ray Finkle imitation I have to watch perhaps my least favorite team in the NFL, the New England Patriots gets a shot at yet another championship.

I would’ve liked to have seen New York and Baltimore in the Super Bowl.  Had that been the case all I would’ve been rooting for is a good game.  But I guess having a good guy/bad guy scenario works just as well.  At least it wasn’t the Patriots against the 49ers.  That scenario would’ve been a nightmare for this Raider fan.  Had been that situation I probably would’ve been rooting for New England because at least their gloating would have been taking place three times zones away.  Since I live in central California the prospect of seeing a gloating San Francisco fan on a near daily basis would’ve been too much to handle.

“Who’s got it worse than us?” – Sincerely, Kyle Williams, Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff

All in all I’m happy the NBA is back but frankly it’s painful to watch.  A couple of weeks ago the Bulls and Raptors play to a 77-64 final.  A few nights later the Mavericks and Lakers try to set the game back even further with a 73-70 final.  Last night the Magic single-handedly sent the game back to the Naismith era by scoring only 56 points in a game.

I know the shortened schedule is the reason for some bizarre happenings and some less than top quality performances but the three examples I just mentioned are inexcusable.  Isn’t there any way to fine these teams a games pay?  Clearly they didn’t show up on those respective nights.

After a 10-8 start that includes a 1-6 road record I completely overestimated the Lakers ability to contend for a title.  No team with that bad of a road record can expect to be playing for anything worth while this season except for a higher draft pick.

I can’t figure out if it’s the team needing time to adjust to a new offensive scheme or the team not having the right player personnel to properly execute the new scheme.  One thing I do know is that a team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum should not be this painful to watch on the offensive end.  With the way Bryant is jacking up shots, I feel like I’m watching the 2005-2006 or 2006-2007 Lakers and I don’t understand why.  This team is way more talented than those that featured such legendary never was’ as Kwame Brown and Smush Parker.

How about the Detroit Tigers coming out of nowhere to sign first baseman Prince Fielder?  The deal is for nine years and worth $214 million.  How’s that for protection for Miguel Cabrera who is a top two or three hitter in his own right?  Along with what the Angels and Yankees have done this off-season, the race for the AL Pennant is down to three teams despite pitchers and catchers not reporting for a little less than a month from now.

Today the Raiders hired former Broncos Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen as their new head coach. For Oakland this was the first head coach to be hired with a defensive background since John Madden in the late 60’s.  I don’t know much about Allen but I was a fan of the hiring General Manager Reggie McKenzie so “In Reggie I Trust”.

I’ve been a Los Angeles Kings fan for my entire life and I never ever thought I would see the day that a Kings goaltender would make an all-star team.  So a big congratulations goes to Jonathan Quick for his outstanding season thus far.  Without the outstanding play of Quick, Los Angeles General Manager Dean Lombardi would be standing in the unemployment right along side former head coach Terry Murray.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

The Four Day Football Whirlwind That Was

January 10, 2012

With so much going on in the world of pro and college football  since Saturday there was no way I could decide on just one thing to write about so without further ado here are my thoughts on the weekend that was:

Saturday night New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had me shaking my head on a regular basis but in a good way.  For three hours I was amazed at the pin point precision throws  he was making as he carved up the Detroit Lions defense.  It was a performance that was nothing short of amazing.

I feel bad for the voters in this years NFL MVP race because whether you pick Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers or Brees you’re wrong even though you’re right.  Good luck with that voters.

Admittedly I didn’t watch much of Monday’s BCS National Championship Game between LSU and Alabama.  After their regular season field goal fest, why would anyone want to sit through another yawner?  Yes, I understand that defense is extremely important but you can still have a great defensive game while having a 21-17 outcome.

Was Alabama the best team on the field Monday?  No question about it.  What they accomplished defensively both last night and this season was nothing short of historical.  Were they the best team in the country?  Yes.  With all that said, I still don’t think they deserved to be playing for a championship last night.  I’m sorry Alabama but as  far as I’m concerned you had your chance against LSU back in November and you lost.  I know it was by a field goal in overtime but you still lost.  Period.  Oklahoma State should have been playing LSU last night.  End of story.

In last week’s column I touched on what the Raiders should do in regards to Hue Jackson’s future as their head coach.  Today newly hired Oakland General Manager Reggie McKenzie announced that Jackson was being dismissed after just one season as head coach.  Jackson  lead the team to an 8-8 record that included a 1-4 finish and the team missing the playoffs for the ninth straight season.

While I disagree with the decision I completely understand why it was made.  As is common in the business world, when new ownership takes over a company they let go of the current people and bring in their people to guide the company in their vision.

The Raiders hiring of McKenzie is no different.  He comes from a Green Bay Packers background which is completely different than the “Raider Way” and he wants to bring in his people to to steer the franchise in his image.  Raider owner Mark Davis gave him that authority and McKenzie plans to execute it.

After guiding the Denver Broncos to a 29-23 overtime victory in Sunday’s wildcard game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Tim Tebow has earned the right to enter next year’s training camp  as the starter regardless of what he does this weekend at New England.

I know Tebow’s pulled off some of the ugliest performances in recent quarterbacking history but he also went 7-4 as a starter and helped Denver get into the postseason.  If he wasn’t playing for the Broncos I would be rooting for him on a regular basis to keep defying the naysayers.

That being said, if you’ve read any of my previous columns you know how I feel about the Patriots so for this week only my rooting interests are completely behind Denver.  Come on Timmy!  I know you have another miracle left in you!

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

The Failure That Was The 2011 Oakland Raiders

January 3, 2012

It was a season filled with promise despite the passing of owner Al Davis.  The once vaunted vertical game had returned.  The ground game was as explosive as any in the NFL.   The defense was playing inspired and the kicking team was challenging all-time records.   First year head coach Hue Jackson was making all the right calls both on and off the field.   Everything was falling into place for the Oakland Raiders.

For the first time since a trip to the Super Bowl in 2002, Oakland seemed like a stone cold lead pipe lock to end their playoff drought.  Through eleven weeks the Raiders were 7-4 and holding sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Unfortunately for  Raider Nation a season that was filled with hope, excitement and promise finished with emptiness, frustration and disappointment.

After losing four of its last five to the end the season including an uninspiring performance at Miami, a remarkable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the fourth quarter of a home game against Detroit and an embarrassing effort against San Diego, the Oakland Raiders are watching the playoffs exactly like you and I…on the couch.

No matter how you look at it the lack of a playoff appearance makes this season a failure.  Coming off a 8-8 season in 2010 that included a 6-0 record within their division, a playoff appearance for the 2011 Oakland Raiders had to be the only criteria by which success for this year could be measured.

Many think the inability of the team to finish should cost Jackson his job even after just one season.  I disagree with that believing that coaches need more than one season to showcase their abilities.  I would give Jackson one more year.  If they don’t make the playoffs after next year then I would give him the pink slip.

To give Jackson the best chances to succeed I would make the these changes.  The first thing I would do is  hire a General Manager and give them complete control over player personnel.  In this day and age I will never understand how teams expect to have success without a General Manager in place.  This person will give the team an identity and build it in their image.  Head coaches or owners should not be making player personnel decisions.

Owners put their employees in the best positions to succeed, general managers find the talent and coaches get the most out of that talent.  That is the recipe for success.  See Bob Kraft who owns the New England Patriots or Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss if you disagree with me.

The next thing I would do is fire Defensive Coordinator Chuck Bresnahan.  His defenses inability to hold three different second half leads this year against Buffalo, Denver and Detroit are arguably the biggest examples of failure for the 2011 Raiders.

In losses to Detroit and San Diego the Raiders allowed them to drive over 95 yards in the fourth quarter in just a handful of plays.  That type of defensive performance is inexcusable.  To steal a famous line from Al Davis, “Bresnahan must go down and he must go down hard”.

In addition, I would try to upgrade the pass defense from my linebackers and try to bring a free agent or use what little draft picks I have left in this years draft to upgrade my secondary.  The play of the secondary was a source of weakness all season long and was routinely exploited throughout.

Lastly, I would do whatever it takes to re-sign Michael Bush.  As much as I love Darren McFadden, he has proven himself to be unreliable.  When healthy he is as good as any runner in the game.  Unfortunately he has never played more than 13 games in a season and is coming off a season in which he only played in seven games.  Bush may not have the speed and quickness of McFadden but what he lacks in that area he makes up for in durability and routinely proves he can perform like a starting running back when given the opportunity.

The 2011 season was a failure that will not soon be forgotten by fans of the silver and black.  It was a performance that should serve as a reminder of what happens when a team doesn’t give it’s best performance for an entire season.  It should also serve as a reminder that the Raiders should live by the example of their slogan and once again “commit to excellence”.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse