Thursday, September 30, 2010

So Sam Bradford reminds you of Troy Aikman, aye?

Did I have something to do with that?

I seem to recall doing a comprehensive blade-job on the very notion of drafting a QB #1. I wrote a piece called "The Only Time it Every Worked Out" prior to the 2010 draft and I sited Troy Aikman and the Cowboys as the one and only time taking a QB #1 resulted in an all-out, smash-bang hit for the team that selected him.

The object was to spell out in absolutely clear terms what ungodly low-percentages you face when selecting a QB #1 in the draft.

At the end of that piece, I compared the 4 QBs at the top of the heap in 2010 to Troy Aikman. I found all of them wanting in one respect or another. I stated that the only dude who even kinda sorta reminded me of Troy was my bambino: Tim Tebow.

Shortly after that I began reading so-called leaks from the Rams organization that stated Sam was the most accurate passer since Troy Aikman. I raised one eyebrow like Spock, and wondered how Peyton Manning felt about that statement. I felt the statement was self-refuting and left it at that.

Then all of a sudden, I hear famous scouts declaring Sam had the best private workout since Troy Aikman. Interesting... I thought they said the same thing about JaMarcus Russell.

Then suddenly, after Devaney drafts Sam, he decides that Sam is going to wear #8 rather than #14. Of course, it is a violation of sports taboos to renumber a QB between college and the pros. We superstitious dudes believe that this often leads to busts. What was the reason for this violation of superstitious taboos? Keenan Burton, a WR who did not make the squad (on one of the most depleted WR rosters around) had already been allocated #14. Surely there must be a better excuse for that?

Devaney and Bradford felt it was a nice tribute to fellow Oklahoma QB and #1 pick Troy Aikman. Incidentally, he graduated from my alma mater UCLA, not Oklahoma as the conference falsely stated.

Now, Michael Irvin is singing this song. He says Sam is a good professional young quarterback, much like Troy. Of course, we know that the NFL Network is the official mouthpiece of the 32 teams of the league. They are asked to single certain promotional songs to stir-up the echoes of official promo statements made by the 32 teams.

While it does my heart some good to think this just might work out after all, I have considerable reservations about these comparisons. Are these comparisons warranted? Let us count the similarities:
  1. They are both quarterbacks
  2. They are both from Oklahoma
  3. They are both right handed
  4. They are both around 6-4
  5. They were both #1 picks
  6. They are both extremely accurate.
  7. They were both highly professional young QBs (at least once upon a time)
  8. They are both Scorpios
There is a bit of data-noise in each of those statements, but I will set that aside. Suffice it to say, I think the comparison is strained. I watched both of them play through their entire college and Pro careers thus far, and I think there are systematic, health, mechanical and stylistic differences that make them plenty distinct.

Don't you think so?

Of course, my draft campaign failed utterly, however, I did raise some hullabaloo inside Ram-circles. I wonder if I mounted a unsuccessful pressure campaign that raised enough ruckus to draw some direct counter-measures? What do you think?

Monday, September 27, 2010

How 'bout dem Rams?

Surprised the hell out of me. The Rams scored 30 points in a regular season game for the first time in a coon's age. The stats were not scintillating, but they were much better than they have been over the past two seasons.

Bradford shot 23/37 for 235 yards with 1 td and one pick. Bradford's efficiency rating is now 68.1, and he is the 23th ranked passer in the NFL by efficiency. This is damn well better than Jimmy Clausen who now rests at 46 points after having an efficiency rating of 0 during the first half of his game. Yep, that's right: Fucking zero. Still, Bradford is 2 points shy of where Bulger was last season. I think we have reason to believe he will surpass Bulger in efficiency by the end of his run, or end of the season, which ever comes first.

Just when Washington began to convince me they were for real, BOOM! {Don't sue me Nike!} Now Washington looks like an optical illusion. The Texans were busted by the Cowboys, and now the Rams tied one on the Redskins. The Rams have not beaten the Redskins 2 out of the past 3 years, in spite of Richie Icognito.

Worse, Shannahan's folly of blowing up a perfectly good 4-3 defense and making it 3-4, just because of his personal biases, was laid bare in front of the football world today. The Redskins gave up 30 points to one of the most offensively-challenged teams over the past 3 years. Worse, this is the second game in a row where they have surrendered 30 or more points.

This is also the second season in a row when the Redskins lost to last year's worst team. IN 2009, the Redskins gave up Detroit's first win in a coon's age.

So now the Rams are batting 333 for the first time in quite awhile, and the 49ers are all by themselves in the basement of the NFC West. If you are a long-time Ram fan, you have to believe that the world took a step towards health and sanity and normality today.

I know I picked them to win the West, but the 49ers in the basement sure sounds good to me. I know I picked the Redskins to win today, but I have seldom been so pleased to be proven wrong.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 2 Record, Week 3 Picks

So, my first week was not so good. My record was 8-8. It was near thing. If the Texans and Saints hadn't pulled it out, I might have been 6-10. Of course, if my aunt was a man, she would be my uncle. It is what it is.

I need pick up my step her, and get a lot more realistic. We'll see how I do on week 3.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So everybody is talking about Kobb, Vick and Reid

So, Andy Reid made the decision to bench Kobb and go with Vick. I was shocked as hell. Frankly I see both sides of the argument well. Ultimately, somewhat reluctantly, I concur with Reid's decision.

First, I can understand why Kobb would be pissed as hell. They traded McNabb to give him the starting job, they upped Kobb's salary, they put Vick in his place, they handed the job to Kevin. Now, after a single quarter performance--that did not go well--the job now belongs to Vick. If I were Kevin, I would feel like a horse's ass. I would feel like the biggest damn idiot of all time. Why did I believe in these people? Why did I buy into this coach? This is humiliation.

However, with that said, there is plenty of justification. Vick is playing amazing football. Furthermore, the West Coast Offense doesn't work anymore. As I mentioned once before, Reid had one hell of a retro-moment against the Packers. He attempted to run a fully Kosher WCO just exactly the way Bill Walsh and Joe Montana did it back in 1981. That was the first time I saw that style in quite some time. As we know, the experiment did not go well. The Packer defense ate them up.

Then Vick comes in and we see the WCO playbook go on the BBQ fire. It is always a night at the improv with Michael Vick running the show. This worked extremely well. Vick caused the Packer defense some serious problems. He also did an amazing job against the Detroit Lions who were game for victory.

There is a large crew of serious analysts out there who believe that only Michael Vick can do the things Steve Young once did... I happen to be one of those guys.

In any case, I have the Eagles with Kobb short-shrift. I can't ignore the Eagles with Michael Vick. I think the Eagles will win the division if Vick remains at the helm for the next 14 games. The sky is the limit. The Cowboys are not playing well. The Redskins are playing well, but I don't think they will keep it up at this pace. The Giants are just too tender and under-done on defense to give me serious hopes for them.

The Eagles with Vick will probably win the division.

The Synastry Files IV, The Rams love me back

So, I finally purchase my copy of Sirius 1.1. For those who don't know, Sirius is purportedly the next-generation product that followed Kepler. Kepler is now outdated, in the EOL (End of Life) category. They still sell it, but it is not their flagship product. Sirius does not look like a 100% do-over product. It certainly looks a lot like Kepler, but oh-well...

I have had some considerable fun with the new (old?) product. Using Match Maker, I have ground out over 2,000 comparisons between theoretical dates and my own natal chart. Of course, the term theoretical date is an odd one. These dates did occur in history, and we can say with something approaching metaphysical certainty that baby girls were born on all of these days. I call them theoretical dates because I know of no specific individual who was born on these dates.

If we look at the top 50 scores on my leader board, we will find an Aries with a score of 530 for Romantic and Sexual Attraction. This edges out La-La (my theoretical Pisces) by some 2 points. I have code-named this female Fire-Ewe. Fire Ewe was born on 04/13/1979, and is just about 31 years old now.

The problem is that Fire Ewe can't compete on other scores. We have a good problem solving score of 206, and we have a good shared creativity score of 152. That's it. The rest of the scores are average. There is nothing average about La-La's scores.

Still, I am impressed by how Aries took-command of the leader board. It is impressive to see so many high scores among Aries females. I guess the Rams love me back, after all.

I was also amazed by my scores versus Aquarius. Aquarius leaped over Libra by a considerable margin, and I didn't think that was going to happen. How about my poor scores versus Capricorn, and less-than-amazing scores versus Taurus? I don't have a single hot Capricorn score until the year 1992. Yep, that's right. There is an 18 year old Capricorn girl somewhere in Los Angeles packing a huge 409 score versus me. That's every daddy's nightmare.

This once again proves that I am a very weird Virgo. Virgo is not supposed to do well versus Aquarius and we are supposed to do great versus Capricorn. Not this Virgo. Quite frankly, my top Aquarius has dramatically better scores (overall) than Fire Ewe, and vastly better than most Capricorns. There are many similar findings with the the lesser Aquarius scores. Based on scores alone, the Aquarians look like damn fine choices.

The Pisces, Virgos, Leos, and several other good signs are not yet included here. Still, we know from previous research that there is are Pisces with better overall-scores. Soon they will be included, and we will have a more complete look at the picture.
  1. 530 Aries 19790413 Los Angele
  2. 522 Aries 19790412 Los Angele
  3. 492 Aries 19790414 Los Angele
  4. 463 Aries 19790411 Los Angele
  5. 447 Aquarius 19800131 Los Ang
  6. 432 Aquarius 19800130 Los Ang
  7. 409 Aries 19790415 Los Angele
  8. 409 Capricorn 19920115 Los An
  9. 409 Aquarius 19800201 Los Ang
  10. 401 Aries 19790410 Los Angele
  11. 377 Capricorn 19920116
  12. 373 Sagittarius 19801209 Los
  13. 371 Aquarius 19880213 Los Ang
  14. 369 Libra 19801020 Los Angele
  15. 367 Taurus 19820424 Los Angel
  16. 359 Aquarius 19800129 Los Ang
  17. 358 Capricorn 19920113 Los An
  18. 356 Aries 19790409 Los Angele
  19. 354 Libra 19810930 Los Angele
  20. 352 Aquarius 19880214 Los Ang
  21. 350 Aries 19700407 Los Angele
  22. 350 Aquarius 19720131 Los Ang
  23. 349 Aries 19860417 Los Angele
  24. 343 Aries 19800324 Los Angele
  25. 340 Libra 19810928 Los Angele
  26. 339 Aries 19700406 Los Angele
  27. 338 Sagittarius 19841213 Los
  28. 338 Aries 19800323 Los Angele
  29. 337 Scorpio 19791026 Los Ange
  30. 337 Aquarius 19880212 Los Ang
  31. 336 Aquarius 19720130 Los Ang
  32. 334 Sagittarius 19801208 Los
  33. 333 Aquarius 19800202 Los Ang
  34. 331 Capricorn 19920117 Los An
  35. 330 Aquarius 19810126 Los Ang
  36. 328 Scorpio 19781105 Los Ange
  37. 328 Aquarius 19880215 Los Ang
  38. 327 Aquarius 19720201 Los Ang
  39. 326 Sagittarius 19801210 Los
  40. 326 Aries 19790416 Los Angele
  41. 322 Sagittarius 19841214 Los
  42. 321 Aries 19860418 Los Angele
  43. 317 Aries 19860416 Los Angele
  44. 317 Aries 19790408 Los Angele
  45. 316 Aries 19800322 Los Angele
  46. 315 Sagittarius 19841212 Los
  47. 315 Capricorn 19830109 Los An
  48. 309 Scorpio 19791119 Los Ange
  49. 309 Aquarius 19660123 Los Ang
  50. 309 Aquarius 19660122 Los Ang

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Pecking Order

A sober analysis of the Rams

The Rams have opened 0-2 for a fourth straight season. Week one featured a loss to the Cardinals. Week 2 featured a loss to the Raiders. Both games were close 17-13 and 16-14 respectively.

Both opponents are now 1-1, with victories at the Rams expense. Both teams were demolished completely by their other opponents. The Raiders were systematically annihilated by the Titans 38-13. The Cards were annihilated 41-7 by the Falcons.

Now for the complex part. The opponents of the opponents are both 1-1. The Falcons destroyed the Cardinals and became a 1-1 football team. The Titans destroyed the Raiders and are now 1-1. Who did the Falcons and Titans lose to? It was the same opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are now 2-0.

Stop me if I am wrong, but the Steelers are supposed to be vulnerable and beatable team right now lacking Ben Roethlisburger, am I right? Maybe not. However, most Las Vegas experts would not put money on the Steelers were they going against top-end competition like the Colts or the Saints. They probably wouldn't bet money on the Steelers were they going against the Texans either.

The way I see it, the Steelers are a second tier team, below the elites, especially in view of the fact that they lack Roethlisburger. They may change my mind very soon. We will see.

This would make the Falcons and Titans 3rd tier, or so it seems in the early going of this 2010 season. Yet the Falcons and Titans systematically annihilated the two opponents who have defeated the Rams.

So here we have our first whiff of an NFL pecking order, or ranking tree. Guess who is at the bottom-bottom? Well... the Vikings are 0-2 also. Yep, but they are not expected to finish with a losing record. Neither are they rebuilding... yet.

Because hope springs eternal, and fans are biased to believe whatever a General Manager tells them, there were some who were all jacked up about the Rams in the 2010 NFL Season. As you well know, I was not one of them. I believe we passed on many opportunities to acquire high-impact players. I'm am talking about all-pro players like Brandon Marshall, Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones, and Albert Haynesworth. In short, we did not do what we needed to do to produce a great-leap ahead.

The forces of truth would dictate that management should be honest about verities of the situation. You should try to bring down expectations, warning people that this going to be a rough year. This is only year 2 (or 3) of a comprehensive a-z rebuilding program. Tempering the enthusiasm with a little reality is the honest thing to do.

Against the forces of truth are the marketing forces. Marketing forces would remind us that the Rams were 29th in stadium attendance last season. They would remind us that the Rams are currently operating in the Red. They would remind us that the Rams just dished out 50/78 (86?) million dollar contract to Sam Bradford. They would remind us that the Rams are about to pitch a new Stadium proposal at the city fathers of St. Louis. If city fathers don't buy into it, it's time to move the franchise.

Who wins in the battle of truth v marketing? Marketing, by a knock-out. Truth goes down in flames.

So, the Rams' draft strategy in 2010 has not produced an instant-turnaround. We have not seen a great leap ahead. It has not produced a substantial change in the NFL pecking order.

We are still seeing a lot of guys rolling around on the ground defensively during enemy running plays. OH! I forgot, they were tackled by the turf monster. However, there are no holding calls when the turf monster tackles our front 7.

This would not have happened if we drafted Ndamukong Suh, kept Adam Carriker and traded for Albert Haynesworth. You know I was pissed about all of these issues. I wrote about these moves and anti-moves copiously in public forums.

Hey, I've got an idea: Let's draft a surgically repaired QB, who missed his senior season, provide spotty protection from an unproven line, poor receivers, run an outdated offense, with a bad coordinator, and let's tell the fans we are going to make a great leap forward. What do you say to that?

Great plan! Some might not buy it, but we are in a business where you just can't please everybody all the time. We have to accept that. This will work! It's sufficient for 2010.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 255mm Miyabi 600D Gyuto

Back in August, I mentioned the fact that I bought into the Miyabi Fusion 600D line, which is an exclusive of Sur La Table. At the time, I thought it a stupid impulse buy. Then I fell in love with the blade. I thought it just might be the sharpest damn thing I had ever seen, despite my experience with Kyocera Ceramic blades.

Well, about a month ago, I decided to buy the Miyabi Fusion 255mm Gyuto. This was the very one in the reference article I sited. By that time, I had interacted with several expert Japanese chefs who encouraged me to try a great Gyuto. All of these gents own and use Santokus, but these are not their most preferred weapons. The Gyuto is their most preferred weapon.

Their perspective is clear: When it comes to knives, bigger is better. Bigger knives slash quicker and cleaner with less effort, not more. Big knives make big jobs small, and small jobs tiny. Far from increasing fatigue, they shorten all forms of work, preventing fatigue. This is a short summary of their viewpoint. They would have more to say, I am sure.

Having read such an awesome review of the Miyabi Fusion 600D 255mm Gyuto, I felt I would be foolish to spend more to purchase anything else. Hence I ran over to Sur La Table one day at lunch and purchased it.

To make a long story short, this purchase signifies the end of my relationship with Ceramic blades. Bigger is best. Big blades do shorten all forms of work, making big prep jobs child-play. I have never had an easier time prepping anything. I don't care whether it is stripping a pork butt for Red Beans and Rice, dicing Cilantro, or cutting Tagliatelli noodles, the Gyuto makes everything easier.

I have to say, this Miyabi Gyuto is finest blade I have ever owned or used in my life. I've got Misono UX-10, Wusthof Classic Ikons, Shun Classics, Victorinox, and Kyocera in my collection.

Unfortunately, big is something ceramic blades just can't do. The land of 250mm+ Gyutos is a land Cubic Zirconium will never see. You see, these blades have sharp size limits imposed by the nature of the material. Experts thought it a marvel when Kyocera was actually able to produce a 6 inch chef's knife. Latteral forces and normal wear and tear is supposed to break such long ceramics rather quickly. They are fragile.

My Miyabi is 10 inches. I can buy a 12 incher from Misono or from Masahiro. Kyocera won't be going there.

When you combine the size and weight advantages of these Gyutos with the strength of their steel and how easy it is to keep them sharp, the case for Cubic Zirconium falls apart. It just isn't compelling.

Word to the wise: Get yourself a kick ass Gyuto, 10 inches or longer. I personally would like to have a 270mm and a 300mm Gyuto. Either Masahiro or Misono will get my next purchase.

Hey Miyabi! Give us a 305mm Gyuto! We want more!

I sure hope the NFL doesn't fine Peyton Manning

Manning Bowl II was a bust. The Colts destroyed the Giants 38-7. It was a pretty horrible game from the viewpoint of a casual observer. Worse for guys who chose the Giants, like me.

The most interesting thing about the game was the disturbed, worried look of concern on father Archie Manning's face as the game wound down. Eli did not have a good game. None of the Giants did. Archie's younger son took one hell of beat-down on the scoreboard and on the field. Archie was not happy, and you can understand why. He wasn't precisely mad at Peyton, but he was concerned about Eli.

It turns out Peyton was also concerned. Peyton politely declined to do interviews after the game. That is a first. The reason was obvious. For a guy who just had a great night, he had a terrible night. He might have had the worst great night a great QB ever had.

The body English was pretty clear. He looked a little sick to his stomach. I am sure he didn't enjoy inflicting a major league humiliation on his little bro in front of a national audience. He had to have mixed emotions about the whole affair. I am sure he declined all interviews because he didn't want to wax poetic about his team just axe-handled his little brother's team. Tony Dungy confirmed all this after the game.

Oh well, Peyton, it was a dirty job, but you had to do it.

Now the only drama is whether the League Office is going to do something really, really stupid like send a FedEx envelope to Peyton's locker with one of those nice fine letters. Technically, all the star athletes are supposed to make themselves available to national media after nationally televised games. Technically speaking, Peyton didn't do that.

The NFL front office would do well to leave this one alone.

My final pre-season predictions, one week late

Alright, so I finally got around to finishing my pre-season predictions, less than 45 minutes before the kick off of week two. I know this is technically cheating. I don't give a fuck. If you are honest, neither do you.

Pre-season did not give me much certainty about things in the year to come. It was a very average, run-of-the-mill business year. I needed week one to give me some clarity about what I thought I saw during the pre-season. I think it did, with one noteworthy exception.

As a result of week one, I have made three changes to my chart. I have dropped the Falcons from the playoff picture, and I now expect the Saints to repeat, and not just as NFC South champs. I have also inserted the Giants as one of the two NFC Wildcard teams. I have also dropped the Jets from the playoff picture, inserting the Patriots as the AFC Wildcard.

It would appear that the Saints have escaped the Vicodin scandal with ease. Presently, there is no word about the Federal DEA investigation. It also looks like they are rolling. Further, the South looks worse than I expected. The Saints show no signs of weakness in this new season. I think they are going to make one hell of a run.

The Falcons are off and stumbling, losing to an exposed and vulnerable Steeler team that was ripe for plucking. They did not look particularly good in Pre-Season. I think this is going to be another very disappointing season for those of us who believed that the Falcons had assembled the nucleus of a Super Bowl champ.

Much as I suspected, the Jets cut their own balls off when they released Alan Faneca and Thomas Jones. Their offense looks just plain terrible. They looked terrible throughout the pre-season, and they struggled something ugly against the Ravens. Even with Faneca and Thomas Jones, their two offensive MVPs of 2009, the Jets were only 9-7 by a gift from the Colts, and they backed into the playoffs. Only those smoking copious quantities of crack think the Jets are going to Super Bowl 45.

You know that I am not strong on the Patriots, but when I look around the AFC trying to find a second wildcard team, I only see two other possibilities: The Titans, and the Bengals. The Patriots already own a 1-game head to head tie breaker with the Bengals. I am not entirely sold on the Titan defense, despite a tremendous performance against the Raiders. Neither am I sold on the Patriot defense, but they have an easier division to play in.

There you have it ladies and germs: My pre-season predictions, one week late.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Finalizing Gastric Bypass plans

So whilst I wasn't watching football, exercising, cooking, eatting, showering, or using the restroom, I was filling out paper work this weekend.

Paperwork for what? For gastric bypass surgery, that's what. Well, how much paperwork can there be for such a thing as that? A shit load. There were some 38 pages of forms to fill out with another 13 pages of instructions explaining how to fill out the 38 pages of forms. I guess they intended to finish off the Amazonian rain forests forever when they constructed this bastard of a program.

Bastard is the technically correct word also. More about that in a second.

Stand back for a split second when I vent. Whilst you do, remember that I am a Quad-Virgo, the most observant dude in the zodiac.

With in the 38 pages of documentation I filled out were the following things:
1. Weight-age guestimates (how much did you weigh at XX age?
2. Diet histories (What are the names of the diets you have tried?)
3. Weight loss history (How much weight have you lost and regained?)
4. Diet Journals (Write down everything you eat for 5 days)
5. Psychological profiles (Were you sexually mollested as a youth?)
6. Eliminator filters (Do you want Gastric Bypass so you can become a super model?)
7. Perscription records (What perscription and non-perscription medication are you taking?)

I could go on. There were lots of things to fill out. It was a load and half.

What I found most irritating was the inconsistency of philosophy present in so many of the documents. Implicit within the psych survey is the notion that you are fat because of Freudian issues. Implicit within the diet journal is the Platonic notion that you simply lack knowledge of how many calories you consume. Implicit within the diet history record is the proposition that you may not have tried normal diets, or tried hard enough. I could go on and on.

What astute observer would fail to note the handiwork of several clashing world views? What logical theorist would fail to recognize a pile of documents assembled in a committee through a political process?

Folks, the medical industry is not of one mind on this subject. I know that. However, the fact that Gastric Bypass is now the formal approach to lifetime obesity indicates that we have finally come to some biological clarity on this issue.

Since the dawn of biological anthropology, we have known that there are three physical body types:
1. Ectomorphs: Very skinny people.
2. Endomorphs: Very fat people.
3. Mezomorphs: The perfectly athletic people.

Furthermore, those anthropologists who specialize in this subject have known what makes them different for some time. Yep, that's right. We've know for some time what makes them different, and it ain't what you think it is either.

Ectomorphs have very inefficient digest tracts that make them prone to waste food energy. If they consume more calories than a particular, biologically determined figure, the excess food energy will be excreted in the form of feces. Yep, that's right, they shit it out. They can't put a pound of weight on. Their systems won't allow it. All excess energy is ejected from the system.

Endomorphs have ultra-efficient digest tracts and metabolisms to boot. Endomorphs can process and extract just about all usable macro and micro nutrients from the foods they consume. Any excess is immediately stored as fat and laid away for an emergecy famine situation. This is true for many micro-nutrients as well. Fat soluble vitamins are stored up with fat inside fat cells. Unfortunately, the super efficient metabolism of the endomorph is capable of throttling-down to remarkably low levels when energy is scarce. The objective is to conserve reserve energy to the greatest degree. This makes dieting ineffective without lots of exercise.

Mezomorphs are the perfect people. These are the people we would all like to be. They have the optimal solution. Their digestive tracts and metabolisms are capable of extracting the uttermost farthing from food energy when they are engaged in body building. They are also capable of squandering and excreting most excess food energy when they consume it. Their metabolisms will throttle-down in famine conditions, but not to the remarkably low levels Endomorphs will. Mezomorphs can be energic, even when very hungry.

Darwinian biologists have considered the relative merits and demerits of these three categories, many times, and you might be surprised by some of their conclusions.

In the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA) ye good ole Endomorphs would be the most hearty survivors of ice-age conditions. We are constructed to survive those harsh ice-age conditions better than the rest of you. Boom and bust environments don't necessarily kill us off. We can survive things like Hollicosts better also.

Yep, that's right. Us disgusting fat people are Peistocene hunting and gathering survival machines. Were not fast, but we're pretty damn strong. We may not be pretty, but we are highly efficient.

Unfortunately, the extremely skinny people would only make out in pretty fair weather and good resource conditions. Come a hard freeze or a bad famine and they are dead.

The mezomorphs are an interesting case. Much argument has taken place about the theoretically perfect people. Their superior muscle-weight-speed ratios predict success. However, they have little protection against the cold, and little energy reserves for famine conditions. To make a long story short, most believe they would survive hard conditions, but be in poorer health, and far less prepared for reproduction, when good times begin to return.

You see, fat women have a lot of energy stored up and prepped for reproduction. They would emerge from a tough winter better prepared for spring fun. This is why some guys really dig fat women. You can make a very Darwinian case that it is adaptive to favor big, fat, strong women. Computer simulations have shown how the tribe with the thickest women can win in hard times.

Unfortunately, we are no longer living in the Environment of Evoluationary Adaptedness. We no longer live in boom 'n bust conditions. We live in a purpetual boom time. Copious quantities of calories are availible to us at all times. We have more food energy availible to us than we can ever need. Further, we no longer need run after our prey. We sit at desks typing all day.

What happens when you confront humanity with and endless supply of year-round calories, and a very sedentary life-style? Well, the ectomorphs shit out the excess energy, and stay skinny. The Mezomorphs need to workout to stay perfectly fit. A little diet here and there may help them also. The endomorphs... well, we balloon up like the Goodyear blimp Columbia. That's what happens to us.

Now, if we all still died well before the age of 50, most of this wouldn't matter much to an endomorph like me. I would probably be dead already. However, advanced Western medicine has extended our lives to absolutely incredible lengths. The doctors think I can live another 30 years... easy. Probably 40 years if I get Gastric Bypass.

Before continuing, I should mention that these facts of biological life leave little room for Freudian molestation explanations. They leave little room for Platonic knowledge and education based explanations. The nature of the endomorph basical rules out any potential for diet success. Guess what? This is why surgeons do gastric bypass surgery now. Since we now know that endomorphs are natural and biological type, why the intense pile of paperwork written from contradictory theoretical perspectives?

Only because the paperwork was assembled in a political committee by people who did not agree with one another. That is to say: for bad reasons.

But back to my main point.

I had to get over a lot of anger this past weekend. I have to admit, I bitterly resent the shitty choices life has set before me.

Dr. Bachner and Saedei have been clear with me: either I take 125-130 pounds off my highly-arthritic knees, or I can be sure of needing a wheel chair sometime in the next 6 years. Bone-on-bone grinding increases in my knees daily, the pain increases daily also. As the pain increases daily, I become more and more sure they are correct. Further, Bachner will not perform knee replacement surgery unless I loose this weight. Neither will most other qualified orthopedic surgeons.

This is horn one of the dilema: The wheel chair

I can escape the wheel chair, but not without considerable pain and consequences. The Surgeon will staple off approximately 90% of stomach, effectively making it useless tissue. Further, he will bypass the first 36 inches of my upper intenstine. After this, whenever I encounter a heavy fat substance, I will automatically throw up. Also, if I consume something with a bit too much carbohydrate, I will quickly be punished with physical pain very similar to that of a heart attack.

Remember, the surgical modifications to my system have been expressly designed to produce these results.

To avoid spending the next two or three decades of my life in a wheel chair, I need to allow the doctors to put scalpuls to my abdomine and wreck my perfectly efficient digestive track, and screw up my conservationist metabolism. For a fee, they will be happy to slice and dice my guts in this manner.

This is horn two of th dilema: Gastric Bypass.

Pick your poison: The wheel chair and an early death at some 450 pounds, or we will intentionally wreck you digestive tract causing permanent life-long difficulties of a different sort. Which option do you like better (A) or (B)?

Personally, I don't think I am such a rotten bastard that life should set before me such an incredibly crappy choice. What crime have I committed? What evil have I done that the fate should hammer me so? I bitterly resent having to make this decision.

I have to tell you, it was a fight and a half to finish that paperwork this weekend. I accomplished the mission after I finally accepted the following argument: What you were living some 30 years ago, and arrived at this point when there was no such thing as Gastric Bypass surgery? What then? You would simply have no choice. You would go into the wheel chair and die (sooner rather than later) as 450 pound man. Would that be a better fate?

On the upside, which is considerable, they say loosing 130 pounds takes 15 years of age off your body. Insulin levels, blood surgar level, triglycerides, steroid hormones, COX-1 and Cox-2 protegladins, stress hormone levels, everything improves dramatically with the reduction of that much weight. You can set aside the level of fatigue saved by not dragging 130 extra pounds around everywhere. Just focus on the blood chemistry. If all this is true, I can expect to regenerate to age 29, as I am now 44. Lest that sound crazy to you, I have heard and seen a few clinical studies that would blow your brains out.

By the start of the 2011 NFL Season, I should weigh something like 195 to 200 pounds. I will appear to be a solid mezomorph, as long as I keep my cloths on. My knees shouldn't hurt much on a daily basis. The pain will be controllable with simple over-the-countlike Excedrin and Aleve. My doc will be willing to do my knee replacement surgery for me.

There is an upside, but it is a costly thing indeed. Those costs cannot be dismissed.

My picks for week 2 of the 2010 NFL Season

I haven't usually been interested in calling the winners and loosers before games. We know how injury prone that sport is. The man assigned to pick these games has a fool's errand. I have been more interested in watch how these things play out in real time.

However, I have grown board with this routine. To try to luster my 2010 season up a bit, I have decided to lay down my predictions regarding winners and loosers. It could be fun. I am interested in testing my perceptions formally. I want to see how accurate I am, and if my accuracy can be improved.


This is a pretty easy week. I don't see a lot of nail-biters here. Dolphins and Vikings produced a bit of sweat. Rams v Raiders also produced a little sweat. Patriots v Jets produced a lot of sweat, and is probably the most difficult pick on the board. Right beside that is the Giants v Colts matchup, which is also sweat provoking. I think the rest is pretty much straightforward.

We'll see how big the upsets are this weekend, and there are always a few upsets.

Dolphins v Vikings a is a bit of a tough call. I believe the Dolphins are much improved. I believe the Vikings are down from last season. I think they are meeting in the middle, which makes this a tough call, but I am going with my AFC East favorite: The Dolphins.

Rams v Raiders is a tough one to hadicap. Understand my position: These are two cellar dwellers, non-play off teams, teams that will not factor, organizations that don't have much going for them. With that said, of these two teams with little going for them, I think the Rams have the better Quarterback and I know they have the better Runningback. The Raiders just got royaled with cheese by the Titans, giving the Rams a defensive blueprint of how to deal with the Raiders. Against these factors is the Black Hole. This is almost a pick'em game, but I give the Rams a 0.5 point advantage.

One quick side-note on the Rams: I had to chuckle over the drama raised by one St. Louis sports rag. The writer dramatized the Rams' season as being "on the brink of another disaster" if the Rams lose to the Raiders. Certainly, no one wants to lose to the Raiders, but I must quibble with the drama-queen presentation. What were you expecting in 2010? Were you expecting a 'great leap forward'? Were you expected a 'big turnaround'? If so, you might need drug testing as a prelude to formal therapy. How can you expect that when we did not make any of the real moves necessary to produce such a turnaround?

I wanted to call pick'em on the Patriots v Jets. I believe both of those teams are down a step from where they were last season. I do not think either is a contender for Super Bowl 45. Either or both may make the playoffs, but neither will be a playoff factor. With that said, the Patriots are coming off a solid win, and the Jets are coming away from a 1-point arse-whoooooping. Make no mistake, they got whoooooped by the Ravens. Ergo, I make the Patriots the 0.25 point favor in this game.

Giants v Colts is extremely difficult to handicap. Ultimately I am going with the Giants because I believe the Super Bowl looser's Jinx is on the Colts.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rams v Cardinals post-mortem

Sam Bradford completed 32 of 55 passes for 253 yards with 1 TD and 3 Ints. This gives him an NFL passer rating of 53.068. His NCAA rating would be 91.912.

33 QBs in the NFL threw enough to qualify for a passer rating on week one of the 2010 season. Sam is currently the 30th ranked QB in the league. Alex Smith (49ers), Shaun Hill (Lions) and Matt Moore (Panthers) are below him.

Sam can take some comfort that Mark Sanchez is only about 3 points higher than he is, and Joe Flacco is less than 10 points ahead of him. Brett Favre is less than 20 points ahead of Sam. As you can surmise, this was a tough weekend for QBs.

It should be noted that Vince Young is crushing everyone with a QB rating of 142.8. I knew he was good. That's why I own a copy of his jersey. Still, it's not all that impressive when you consider that he only shot 13/17 for 153 yards.

There are 5 variables required to compute an NFL or NCAA passer rating. Those five variables are:
1. Attempts
2. Completions
3. Yards
4. Touchdowns
5. Interceptions

Having written a simple little WPF Passer-rating calculator in C#, I think I understand this formula fairly well. I sat around fiddle-faddling with Sam's numbers trying to understand where things went wrong.

So the interceptions killed Sam, right? Not exactly. Subtract all three interceptions, and his rating only rises 75.795 (NCAA=102.821). Those are not particularly high ratings.

So he didn't throw enough touchdowns? Not exactly. Tossing another touchdown only tacks on 6 or so points, in the best case scenario. Tossing two more touchdowns only adds about 12 points.

The fundamental issue is Sam's yardage per attempt and yardage per completion. Sam only had 4.6 yards per attempt (253/55 = 4.6). Sam only got 7.9 yards per completion (253/32 = 7.9). His passer rating is only going to rise if these two figures heads north in a hurry.

Strictly speaking, Sam' stats on Sunday indicates that the Rams will come up short attempting to convert a simple 3rd and 8 situation, even the pass is complete. That completion will only happens 58% of the time. Those kinds of probabilities don't deliver a good passer rating.

What is missing? I'll tell you what is missing: the vertical offense. The Rams ran precious few vertical routes on Sunday. I saw lots of horizontal crossing shit; very few 999 all-goes. I would settle for a few 69 Razors. Even if you check down to Steven Jackson from 69 Razor, Jackson will have room to rumble because you stretched the field.

So what went wrong?
1. The WCO
2. Too many short routes (WCO).
3. No vertical 8 and 9 routes (WCO)
4. Too many horizontal crossing patterns inside 15 yards (WCO)
5. Pathologically conservative pass routes (WCO and Shurmur)
6. No vertical stretch (WCO).
7. Too many throws to Mark Clayton.
8. Mardy Gilyard was not in the lineup enough
9. Not enough throws to Mardy Gilyard
10. Poor pass protection

Notice that I list poor pass protection last? That's a new world order for me. I normally put that first on my lists.

As you can see, I am laying the corpse at the WCO's doorstep. Most of what went wrong with the Rams offense on Sunday has everything to do with the design and implementation details of the West Coast Offense, one of my least favorite offensive schemes in football.

Folks, this is what you get with the West Coast Offense. That dog had its day, and that day is now over. If you run the WCO, properly, this is the outcome you should expect. You get what you pay for. Once in a while, the WCO has a good Sunday, but that isn't most Sundays. As the famous New Orleans Bluesman once sang: Even the sun shines on a dog's ass some days.

In case you didn't get the take home message from the former paragraphs: I really, really, really, really, really don't like the WCO. If you do, show proof that it still works in its kosher form. I'll bet you real money you can't do that.

For further evidence of this fact, have a good look at what Kevin Kobb did in Philly before getting knocked out. Andy Reid truly experienced a retro moment there. He was trying to run a fully Kosher WCO for the first time in a long time. The battle did not go well, until Kobb was knocked out of the game, and Vick shreaded the WCO playbook.

Vick always plays sandlot ball. It is always a night at the improv with Michael Vick. Better a night at the improv-sandlot than a night with the WCO, I always say.

For some benighted people, the WCO means a highly sophisticated, organized, systematic, high-percentage, scientific approach to football. That perception is almost entirely faulty and off-point. What it is a stodgy, predictable, inflexible, easily countered offense. A well organized defense need not fear the WCO.

So what would be the correct solution for the Rams at this stage of the Season? Well it's simple really. You have to stretch the defense both horizontally and vertically. "Stretching" a defense horizontally alone doesn't stretch them at all these days.

A combined vertical and horizontal stretch is the signature and Hallmark of the Spread offense. The Spread is an offense Bradford knows well, and an offense which is mathematically sound. Mike Leach, the world's foremost authority on the Spread, is available on the market now. Ergo sum, you fire Shurmur, you hire Mike Leach. You run the vertical and horizontal stretch plays from the Spread, and you rip teams up.

Bottom line folks: I feel profoundly disconnected from the Rams.

The Rams executed a draft strategy this year I would never have pursued. None of the guys on my hit list were drafted by the Rams. All of the guys drafted by the Rams were either in my no-fly zone, or were complete unknowns. I would have changed offensive coordinators, Devaney did not. The lesson is plain: Devaney has a plan, and it doesn't look anything like my plan.

That would be fine if he also had a good plan. The problem is I don't like his plan. It involves ultra-high risk strategies such as (a) drafting wounded passers, (b) providing inadequate protection schemes, and (c) using an outdated, outmoded, systematically defeated offense (the WCO) that is certain to produce poor results.

Did I mention Pat Shurmur? I'd cut his head off. Get out the guillotine. Awe forget it...

Let me ask you straight-up: Do you think Devaney's plan is a good plan?

The whole team is headed in a direction I don't like, as I knew it would.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week One, 2010

I have been slow in finalizing my picks for this season due to the fact that Pre-Season didn't furnish me with much certainty about what would happen this year. It was kind of a blah pre-season as pre-seasons go.

Cheating though it may be, I will post my pre-season predictions after the double-header tonight. I will publish my final predictions sometime Tuesday evening. It is a good think I waited. Week one was full of surprises that shed light on the upcoming season.

The Bengals go pop

The Bengals v. Patriots game was the first bit of light shed on the new season. The Bengals are a team know for their booms and busts. They rarely follow one playoff campaign with another. This has been true throughout their history. Although it would appear that the Bengals increased their ammo supply during the off season, they sure played like pooh-poo dooh-doo yesterday morning.

Don't compare this season's Week-One loss to that of last season. The Bengals had a fast-starting Denver team beaten, on the last week one, when suddenly the Immaculate Deflection struck. The Bengals played very well in that game; more than well enough to win. They were just robbed by fate.

Let's make no mistake about this: The Bengals got blown out by the Patriots. This was never a competitive game. The Patriots knocked them out and stomped on them. The logical inference is not that the Patriots are strong in 2010. The logical inference is that the Bengals are going flat after a good season, just as they have in so many years prior to this one.

My conclusion is that the Bengals got stomped by a suspect and vulnerable Patriot crew primarily because Carson Palmer did not perform well at all at the QB position. Make no mistake, Carson has never quite lived up to his billing as an elite QB. Now he is looking more and more like Jim Everett 2.0; but not quite that good.

Going into this season, we all know that Palmer is on the hot seat. Right now Palmer is 0-1 when it comes to making his case in 2010.

The Bengals also suffered something of a defensive failure, but I think that was triggered by the inability of the offense to stay on the field and eat the clock, as they did so well last season.

The lesson I take from this is clear: The Bengals will not contend in 2010, and the Ravens have an even stronger position to launch a Super Bowl run.

What the hell happened to the 49ers?

How did the Seahawks crush the 49ers? Chris Berman said it best: "This, above all results today, has us scratching our heads." The 49ers are not a great team, just a good one. However, the Seahawks do not look anything like a playoff team to my eye. How the hell did the Seahawks destroy the 49ers?

What we saw was a full-blown system failure for the 49ers. They failed offensively, and Alex Smith did not look at all like a franchise QB. Unfortunately, they also failed defensively, allowing the Seahawks 38 points. How did that happen to this potentially-elite Mike Singltary defense? This I find shocking.

Don't read too much into this. As a famous New Orleans bluesman once sang: Even the Sun shines on a dogs ass some days. I have a hunch this may just turn out to be a fluke game. Last season, the Seahawks opened by crushing my Rams 28-0. They went 4-11 in the next 15 games and finished as the 6th worst team in the league.

The Jinx

The Colts are suffering the Super Bowl loser's jinx. What did I tell you about that thing? It is real and powerful and effective. During the deep off season, I shocked some people by making the Texans my favorite to win the South.

Right now, I think it is a two horse race: Titans vs. Texans. The Colts are bringing up the rear. I think the Titans have a distinct advantage.

The Giant defense seems much-improved.

Perry Fewell seems like the man of the our in New York. The Giant defense looked good yesterday, drastically better than last year. They victimized the Panthers as we would expect them to. If things continue to improve, expect the Giants to the lead the East for the duration of 2010.

Based on limited data, the Giants could be the best team in the East.

The Vick controversy

Let's just say that the Kobb era didn't get up and fly yesterday. I'll give you the two key reasons. First, Kobb looks like the second coming of Shaun Hill. Second, Andy Reid was calling a classic West-Coast game, and the WCO is an outmoded, outdated, obsolete offense that just doesn't work anymore.

You saw how easily the Packers were nailing the Eagles in the early going. I assure you, that was not because of the struggles of a young QB. That was because of the ease with which you can counter-measure the WCO system.

The second Kobb goes down with a concussion, and Vick goes in, the WCO playbook gets tossed out, and the Eagles begin to surge. Reid is a true believer in the WCO. He is not going to give up his religion without a fight. However, he would be best served to just let Vick play.

I am not a fan of the crazy gunslinger and the sandlot QB type, but that style of offense works better than the WCO does. It will produce more yards and more points and more gray hair for NFC DCs than the WCO will

The curse of Alex Barron

I hope you were watching the Sunday night game. It all came down to the final seconds. Tony Romo throws a game winning touchdown pass to Roy Williams in the right corner of the end zone. The Cowboys win! Nope! Guess again. There is yellow laundry on the green grass. Alex Barron, 6th year man from Florida State held mr. Brian Orakpo of the Texas Longhorns. Oh shit! Is that the ball game? Yep, holding #71 offense. That's the end of the game folks. Redskins win. Good night, and good luck.

The penalty was absolutely decisive. Without the penalty, the Cowboys win. With the penalty the Redskins win. The whole game turned on just one penalty. Jeezzzeee... I would hate to be Alex Barron right now.

You should have seen the Play Maker Michael Irvin on the NFL wrap-up show. The frustration! The exasperation! The anger! To quote Irvin: "I told him in training camp 'YOU SIT YOUR FAT BUTT DOWN AND BLOCK FOR 3 SECONDS'".

Michael was killing me. I was laughing my ass off. Play Maker, you do not know how many Sundays over the course of the past 5 years I have screamed at my HDTV "YOU SIT YOUR SCRAWNY ASS DOWN AND BLOCK FOR 3 SECONDS!" At 6-7 and 325 pounds, I think Alex is actually pretty scrawny. He has less than 10 pounds of fat on his body. You have to give him credit for that much. Nevertheless, I said essentially the same thing as the Play maker, about 875 million times.

I feel your pain, Mike. Furthermore, you are feeling the pain I (and all Ram fans) experienced for the past 5 years. I don't understand Alex Barron. He's got every gift God ever gave an offensive lineman, except intelligence, and he wrecks it savagely by committing all these stupid penalties. Herm Edwards claims that the offensive linemen are usually the smartest guys on the team. Not Alex. You cannot get this guy to eliminate mistakes.

Back in the deep off-season, when I made Dallas my mild-favorite to win the NFC, I worried about whether my Rams had injected the poison pill into the Cowboys' fuel mixture. This worry already seems like a serious concern.

I am sure Billy Devaney was sweating a bit after dealing Barron for Carpenter and then subsequently releasing Carpenter. Essentially, he gave away Barron of nothing. Then, when you see Barron in the starting lineup for the Cowboys... It doesn't look so good for Devaney. When you hear that former Ram coach Jim Hasslet, a guy you fired, is targeting Barron because he is sure Barron will screw up... Well... it's cold comfort.

Then comes vindication. Barron makes the decisive penalty play that costs the Cowboys a win in his first week as a starter. Awe crap... The Ram fans who didn't want to flush Barron--and there were not many of them--all looked at each other and said: "Maybe Devaney was right... this time."

The Rape of Detroit

Now for the truly egregious moment of the week! The Lions get a game winning touchdown pass without franchise QB Matt Stafford, and the Zebras take it away upon further review. Let's make no mistake: the Refs sodomized the Lions like a Jailhouse rapist going to work on new meat in the shower.

I am wearing my Calvin Johnson jersey and a black arm-band all day long. I am protesting this injustice.

I know you are going to quote the fucking rule book. That ain't nothing but good 'ole fashion communism. I know a touchdown when I see one, and that was a touchdown. He lost control of the football as he was standing up to go celebrate. That was a catch with full control in the endzone.

The refs are lucky they were in Chicago. In Detroit, they might have come down with a bad case of Columbian Neck-Ties.

What did I chastise Lion Management about?

Folks, when I was setting team goals for the Rams, pass protection and sack-reduction were of paramount importance. I sited Detroit as the perfect example of how not to do things. Matt Stafford finished his rookie campaign needing not one but two surgeries. Still, the Lions got him no viable pass protection in the 2010 draft, or in free agency.

I stated that this was incredibly stupid, and now look what has happened. I accused the Detroit management of digging the kid an early grave. Guess what? Detroit will not be getting up off the carpet in 2010, and they will not make a run. Why? Matt Stafford is out for the next 4-6 weeks with an injured passing shoulder. Don't expect him to perform perfectly when he returns. Expect another off-season surgery.

You see, this is what comes of Buttism. You cannot draft players based on how many seats they will fill. As much as I love Jahvid Best, it would have been better to take a Left Tackle.

Is Sam Bradford next?

So the Left Tackle the Lions didn't take (Rodger Saffold) is now a Ram. I have profoundly mixed observations about the Rams line, and mixed feelings about what I am about to say about them. The Rams line looked considerably better than last year in week 1. They still did not look like a high quality line. Usually, it takes 5-6 weeks for an OL unit to jell, and show signs of a little team work.

There are several questions. Will this line jell? If they jell in 5 to 6 weeks, will that be soon enough to keep Bradford healthy. Is this unit talented enough to protect Bradford?

You did notice that the Cardinals were opening some mighty big running holes yesterday, right? They kinda looked like the New York Jets last season. Awe shit! Look at the guy wearing #66! Is that Alan Faneca? Gheeze... isn't he that washed up dude the Jets released? Booouuuyyy! Look at dem holes in the defensive line. The HD video is pretty clear.

Man, wouldn't Steven Jackson benefit from holes like that? How are the Jets doing at the Left Guard position? Did I hear somebody say that Hard-Knocks exposed shitty performance for the Jets at the Left Guard position?

I categorically rejected all the absolute bullshit floating around about Faneca in the immediate aftermath of his release from the Jets. I knew it was a salary dump. I knew the Jets' management was spin doctoring with heaping helpings of disinformation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Can the Rams jump on the Cardinals this afternoon?

I wanted to leave this blog entry until the last moment mainly because I didn't want to provide any possible bulletin board material for the Cardinals. However, I considered posting these ideas as far back as three days ago.

To state my biases:
  1. I believe the Cardinals are concave down and declining. Whether they understand it or not, they are entering a comprehensive rebuilding phase.
  2. The Rams are entering the third year of a comprehensive rebuilding project. If the foundation has been well laid--and I have 863 tons of doubt about that--this project should begin bearing fruit soon.
With that said, this looks like a very close match up. I was not surprised to see Sterling Sharpe pick the Rams on the NFC Playbook show. I was surprised at the level of skepticism his cohort hit him with when he did so.

Folks, you don't have to be a believe in the Rams' rebuilding project to understand that this is close match. Just look at me for an example of that fact. You just have to play a handicapper game called "Sit down".

When evaluating a pair of teams to determine a favorite, you make a combined fantasy team out of the two rosters. You count the number of starters from each side. The one with the greater number of starters is the the most talented team. You must also consider injuries, conflicts, personality problems, suspensions, etc. However, Sit Down is the fundimental assessment of the situation.

Just to make a long story short: The Cardinals do win the Sit Down evaluation but not by much. The Cardinals win defensively 6-5. The Cardinals win the offensive match-up more lopsidedly 7-4, but this is mostly because 4 of their offensive linemen beat out the Rams' offensive linemen. The Cardinals lose two key match ups offensively: Sam Bradford and Steve Jackson make Derek Anderson and Hightower sit down. The Cardinals only win one offensive match-up decisively, and that is Larry Fitzgerald vs. any Ram receiver you please.

Understand that Larry has a dinged up knee, and he has been overheard worrying about offensive chemistry...

When handicapping this game, we need to ask several questions:
  • How important is the Quarterback position?
  • How important is the running back position?
  • How injured is Larry Fitzgerald?
  • How likely are the Cards to sack the hell out of Sam Bradford?
These are four maddening questions. They say it is a quarterback driven league. I think this point is often over-stated, but it is true. The main running back is a key offensive producer, especially in this post-west coast era.

Now Larry's case is really important to the outcome of this game. Most fantasy predictors are sitting Larry in this game because they have heard tale of his worries about offensive chemistry with Derek Anderson. Further, they have little or no confidence in Derek Anderson, and that is more than justifiable. Most 'experts' think Larry is going to put up poo-pooh doo-doo numbers today. If so, the Cardinals are going to have great difficulty producing points.

The most shocking tale of the preseason was the Rams' sudden offensive point production. The Rams finished 2009 dead-last in point production. They scored 175 points in 16 contests for an average of just 10.9 points per game. They couldn't throw the football to save their lives. The passing offense... nay, the entire offense looked like keystone cops at a Chinese fire drill.

Then suddenly the Rams pop 19 on Cleveland, 36 on the Patriots, and 27 on the Ravens. Go figure. Much of the credit belongs to Sam Bradford, but he only accounted for 20 against the Patriots and 7 against the Ravens. The entire offense looks much better organized and more aggressive.

When Bradford is healthy, I think it is quite likely that the Rams can score 21 points a game. Maybe more.

So, the grand ultimate question you need to ask yourself is this: If the Rams pop 21 on the board against the Cardinals can they score 22? I have grave doubts about the Cardinals ability to produce points during the regular season this year. They certainly had problems doing it during the preseason.

Folks, I am not saying it is a lock, but we could be looking at an upset here. How surprised will the league be if the Rams open undefeated and equal their win total for all of last year in just one shot?

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Rams Offensive Line...?

The dirty little question mark...

So I recently received a challenge note from a fellow Ram fan. He claimed I was being far too hard on Devaney, Shurmur and particularly the offensive line. He wanted to know if I had missed out on some key developments in the evolution of the offensive line, like the acquisitions of Jacob Bell, and Jason Brown, not to mention the drafting of Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold.

Regrettably, I did not not miss out on the key developments in the evolution of our offensive line. Perhaps my life would be better and happier if I had. Sadly, I know all about these things, as well as the dumping of Richie Icognito and Alex Barron; both moves I favored. In much knowledge is much sorrow...

The Challenger wanted to tell me I was wrong about the Rams' OL. You see, the Rams' OL has been 80% reconstructed over the course of the past 2 seasons. Jacob Bell is the only man left from the 2008 line. Ergo, I am wrong. The Rams have every chance of fielding a rock-hard offensive line in 2010. Devaney has done his due diligence, preparing a potentially strong line for Sam Bradford to operate behind.

This was his argument in a nutshell.

While the points regarding the offensive line moves are factually correct, the conclusion drawn from them is confounded by the video tape evidence. The Rams have made many, many moves on their offensive line over the past three years. Few, if any, seem to be bearing any fruit.

We need to remember that the Rams offensive line gave up more than 40 sacks in both 2008 and 2009. The Rams had a quarterback rotation by medical triage during these seasons. In preaseason 2010, they surrendered 6 sacks in the game against the Vikings, and Bradford was hit on almost every pass attempt during the Patriot game.

Where is the fruit of all this labor? To what factoid can I look for evidence that these moves are paying off?

With this as a backdrop, let us take a close look at the Rams offensive line, starter by starter. Let's look at the most most heavily scrutinized and suspect unit on the 2010 Rams' Roster. Let's go right to left, not left to right.

Right Tackle Jason Smith

At the Right Tackle position we find the #2 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Jason Smith. Jason is a 6-5 310 pounder who is athletic and lean. He is said to have a mean streak. I can't find that in him, or at least I couldn't in 2009. Of course, he only played half the year in 2009 due to a major concussion. This is trouble. If the Rams need to reach for a Mark Wallace cap and slap it on Jason's helmet, then so be it. Do whatever it takes to keep him in the lineup

The intriguing fact is that Jason was drafted to replace Orlando Pace at left tackle, but had wound up at the right. The Rams chose to start Alex Barron there last season. They seem to be settling on Rodger Saffold there this season. More about this in a moment...

At this moment in time, Jason Smith has not proven himself in the NFL. He has not validated the Rams' decision to select him with the #2 overall pick in the 2009 draft. Some have already called Jason Smith a bust, and the NFL's most over-paid player. I feel those statements are very premature. Still, Smith has a lot to prove in 2010. If he does prove himself, the Rams' OL will move a lot further along the road to respectability.

More about this soon.

Right Guard Adam Goldberg

At the Right Guard we find a journeyman Backup offensive tackle Adam Goldberg. Goldberg has spent most of the last three seasons filling in at various positions along the Rams offensive line. You might call him the 6th man. Whenever anyone gets injured, Adam gets the call; he's the first replacement in the game. He has played a lot of downs in the past three years. You might even describe him as a virtual starter. Now he will be a true starter. I trust Adam up to a point. I don't expect him to make the next several All-Pro teams, but he is a trustworthy dude at the right guard. The problem is that he won't stay there for long. The moment Jason Smith or Rodger Saffold go down, Goldberg will exit the right guard position and become the swing-tackle again. Who then shall be our right guard?

Center Jason Brown

At the center we find Pro-Bowler Jason Brown. This is the one move the Rams have made in the past two years that seems to be paying off. Brown missed a couple of games with a knee problem in 2009, but for the most part, he was very solid. I saw him win fights at the line of scrimmage against such super-luminaries as Albert Haynesworth. He gave up a couple of heinous sacks against the 49ers, but this had to due as much with organization and teamwork as anything else. I am satisfied that Jason Brown is as advertised.

Left Guard Jacob Bell

At the left guard we find Jacob Bell... My favorite. I have have slammed Jacob Bell quite a bit in the past two years. To me, he has looked like a GM error. The Rams acquired him as a free agent from the Titans for the princely sum of $36 million, and to this day, I don't know why. A few more bucks would have brought us Alan Faneca. Certainly, Alan would have been better. Jacob is basically a runty guard who doesn't have a lot of drive and power. I have not seen him win many fights at the line of scrimmage. I have not seen him pancake anyone in two seasons.

On the other hand, I have seen him suffer a lot of connective tissue injuries and come into camp under weight. You know what this means, right? Underweight, then subsequent connective tissue injuries? Bell is coming off both a torn hamstring and a knee surgery during this past off season. Bell has my sympathy for the pain he must be experiencing. These things hurt a lot. I know personally.

Still, I wonder whether we should expect more or less from Jacob in 2010? Less, I think. I question the organizations continued reliance upon him at right guard. Certainly, when Alan Faneca magically appeared on the market again this off-season, I would have claimed him off waivers immediately. That was a gift from God we spat upon. That pissed me off to no end.

Right Tackle Rodger Saffold

Finally, we have the rookie 2nd round pick from Indiana, Rodger Saffold. Saffold got some mixed reviews from an assortment of critics, but word on him is generally good.

Some questioned his origins at Indiana, a program not known for developing pro-prospects. Some questioned the nature and character of the back injury he suffered in college. Many say he is a beastly run blocker and road grater, but not such a brilliant pass protector.

Still, I heard other reports from Michigan and Ohio State alums that Saffold was the best offensive lineman in the Big-10 over the past 3 seasons. This would include Packer Rookie Brian Bulaga. Packer insiders claimed that the Pack was planning to select Saffold, but were surprised to find Bulaga still available when their number came up.

The truth be told, we have no idea how Rodger will turn out. We are at the dawning of his era, and we just don't have much evidence to look at yet. I myself have no feel at all for what he can do and cannot do at this moment in time. I am waiting to see him in action against starters through an entire game. We should call him the X-Man because he is the greatest unknown factor on the Rams offensive line going into 2010.

Strange Doings with the Tackles

As I mentioned earlier, when Jason Smith was selected, he was anointed the successor to Orlando Pace. Yet, Alex Barron wound up being the Left Tackle for 2009. This move was made because Barron was purportedly left-handed with a left-dominant step. Also, the Rams were not to keen on trying an untested rookie at the all-important LT position.

When Rodger Saffold was selected, he was immediately praised by Mike Mayock for his outstanding flexibility, and ability to play any position on the line (save center). He was immediately projected as the starting right tackle for the Rams, with Alex Smith flipping over to the left.

Well folks, history does not appear to be unfolding in this fashion. As of today, the Rams depth chart shows Jason Smith at the right and Rodger Saffold at the left.

Is this a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not. A team needs a good right tackle almost as much as it needs a good left tackle. Allowing Smith to continue at right creates a bit of continuity, and gives him a somewhat familiar place to play. Allowing Rodger Saffold to continue at left, where he played in college, prevents him going through the hard learning curve Smith went through last season.

You do have to wonder why they would trust Saffold at left this season, but not Smith last season... Was Alex Barron that good? Can it be that you just don't like your #2 pick from 2009? I heard rumors Devaney regretted passing on Dirty Sanchez. Is this also a rejection of the #2 pick overall in 2009?


The greatest concern of all, regarding this unit, is durability. For three straight years, the Rams offensive line has suffered copious quantities of injuries. All of the linemen from 2007 are now gone. All but one from 2008 is gone. Three of five return from 2009 season. Few, if any, have proven that they can stay healthy.

Years ago, former Ram corner Rod Perry told me that durability and dependebility is part of the basic job description of a Pro-Football player. To play pro-football, you must have a body that can endure the punishment of the sport. If you don't have a body that can withstand these blows, and still remain healthy enough to play, then you just aren't a Pro-Football players.

There you have it. Certainly this was my downfall as a player. I couldn't stay healthy, even on the Junior College level.

The greatest question mark regarding the Rams' offensive line is the durability and dependibility of these five starters. None of these men have proven that they can go 16 straight games without skipping a beat. If they can't make it for 16 games, neither can our quarterbacks (plural). If the Rams don't have men who can deliver 16 games, then they don't have real pro prospected on their offensive line.

Fire the kicker! Fire the Kicker! Fire the Kicker!

I understand Texas Longhorn kicker Hunter Lawrence is available, should the Saints should want him. If I were you, I would get him. You don't want to suffer Seminole-Colt syndrome on the way to your second championship. Rumor has it that Garrett Hartley is safe, even if after missing two field goals last night. I would cut him and get Hunter.

Other than that, would say that the Saints had a pretty damn good outing last night. The game was a tad bit boring; a mixture of a defensive struggle, a little bit of the Vikings just plain struggling. The score would not have been so close had the Saints made either of their two field goal attempts.

There were some surprises. I did not expect to see the Saint line maul and manhandle the Viking defensive line so brutally. The Saints were able to shove the football down the throat of the Viking defense without benefit of a power back like Steven Jackson, and Vikings seemed powerless to stop them. Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks just hammered the Viking tackles and blew them right off the line of scrimmage. That is a harbinger of bad times for the rest of the league. If the Saints can do that to the Vikings, the rest of the league, save maybe the Ravens, are going to get pummeled.

Now I have the world's biggest case of guard envy. Envy, envy, envy, envy, envy! Carl Nicks looked a hell of a lot like Barry Allen. Further, he looked even better than Jahri Evans, the NFL's All-Pro right guard. At 6-5 and 343, he is about the biggest damn guard I have ever seen.

Speaking exclusively for myself, I really wonder about the Vikings at this point. Chris Collinsworth commented several times about how much Favre appeared to be missing Sidney Rice. I couldn't agree more. However, I would add the following line: Favre appeared to be a beat up and tired old man at the end of the game, and he looked very disappointed in himself. Believe it or not, I understand totally. I am a couple of years older than Brett and I know all about bone-on-bone grind contact. I have advanced osteoarthritis in my knees.

Personally, I don't know how he is doing it. Further, I wonder if he can do for the entire season. After watching the post game, I wondered if we might be hearing of Brett's retirement again very soon. I know Brett has never been a quitter, and when he is in, he's all the way in. Still, he did not look good last night. With all three rivals in the North improving considerably, I think the Vikings have tough sledding ahead.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The NFC West is a mess

A little prologue. I am not a cheerleader. I am not here to extol any team. I am not going to hype the new season. I am not trying to sell tickets. I am not here to lick the booties of a key access points. I am not a promoter or a glad-handler

My objective is absolute accuracy. I want to make an accurate prediction that matches the final outcome of 2010 season. I want to describe the exact fact of the matter.

It seems to me that the NFC West is a mess. Top to bottom, this is the worst division in the NFL. You have only one moderately play-off caliber club in the San Francisco 49ers, but don't bet on them to go far. You have two teams on the down-slope of rebuilding. Then you have the loosing-est team in football, over the last three years, now entering the 3 year of a comprehensive rebuilding program. The Rams hope to be headed up, but how high can they go?

As we evaluate these football teams, keep in mind Herm Edward's Law: Having a franchise QB is worth four extra victories per year.

The 49ers

The 49ers are (by far) the most talented and complete football team in this division. They are the only team worthy of a playoff birth. They have an outstanding defense and they have excellent offensive weapons. There is just one little fly in the ointment: The quarterback position.

Many folks had high hopes that Alex Smith turned the corner last season. I myself thought he turned the corner this past season. This preseason, Alex Smith has looked plain ordinary. He looks like a journeyman QB, not a franchise QB. How far can you go with such a QB? Round 1 of the playoffs? Round 2? Not round 3 unless dumb luck strikes.

If Alex Smith should happen to resemble a franchise QB by the end of the season, the 49ers might contend for the Super Bowl. How likely is this to happen? I doubt it will happen. Right now, we have to say that the 49ers have found their starter, but they do not have what we would consider a franchise QB.

The 49ers were 8-8 last season. Due to the spiraling collapse of the NFC west, they should improve to a minimum of 10-6. I am going to predict an 11-5 finish for the 49ers.

The Cardinals

As I have stated before, I think Cardinals are staring down the gun-barrel at a long and disappointing fall. Think of all the key Cardinal playmakers who just aren't there anymore. Anquan Bolden, Antrel Rolle, Karlos Dansby, and ace QB Kurt Warner. The Cards just gave up on Matt Leinart. Larry Fitzgerald has gone down with a knee injury.

I know they think they found replacements for several of these players. I completely disagree with them. They have not. I will admit that Chris Mortensen is correct when he says the Cardinals think better of themselves than most experts do. Sure, fine, but what does their false confidence have to do with anything? Zip, zero, ziltch, nada, nothing, sweet fuck-all, that's all

Derrek Anderson is now the new starting QB in Phoenix. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why anyone would regard Derrek Anderson as a franchise QB, least among them Ken Weisenhunt. This guy is not a used-to-was. He is a never-was. Sorry, just have to be brutally honest about it. I cannot believe that fellows like Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter can talk with a straight face about how Anderson will be a solid replacement for Warner. Say what?

I can see no reason why I would be optimistic about the 2010 season if I am a Cardinal fan. Remember Herm Edward's law? This was a 10-6 football team with Kurt Warner. I am going to subtract 4 victories because of Kurt's retirement, and 1 more for everybody else.

I think this is a 5-11 Cardinal football team, and believe me, that is a generous assessment of the situation. The Cards could be worse than that.

The Seahawks

What about the Seattle Seahawks? Folks, this is year ONE of a comprehensive rebuilding project. They fired the GM and the Coach. They sacked the staff. They have flushed good veterans who could have helped them. We see every evidence of a full-scale rebuild in progress. Remember, this is just year 1 of the project.

Seahawk fans are mavens, and they still believe they still have a quality team that was just in the Super Bowl a couple years ago. Actually, that was almost 5 years ago, and most of those guys are gone.

The Seahawks had a very good draft in 2010. They might well have had the best draft of any of the 32 NFL teams. Still, this will not produce a big or sudden turn around.

The truth was spoken by Michael Lombardi recently when he said that Seahawks have one of the least tallented rosters in the NFL in 2010. This assessment was made just a few days ago, after the 53 man roster for 2010 was finalized.

I agree with Lombardi. I would simply add that this is precisely what you would expect in year #1 of a comprehensive rebuilding project. I can also tack on the good news/bad news that you will be in position to claim your next franchise QB: Jake Locker.

The Rams

This brings us to the Rams... My specialty. Folks, no man walking the face of the Earth is a bigger heathen, atheist, skeptic, apostate, non-believer in the Rams rebuilding program than I am.

I have said many times that selecting a surgically repaired QB, with the #1 pick, giving him an 80/50 million contract, and putting him behind a crappy offensive line is the dumbest rebuilding plan I ever heard of. Certainly, only a very, very foolish man would execute such a plan. Certainly, there is no such fool currently occupying any of the 32 NFL GM seats! This is the reason I was absolutely certain the Rams would not select Bradford in the 2010 draft.

Words cannot express how my mind boggled when it first began to dawn on me that Devaney was serious about doing this. The horror... the terror... the dread... Nothing could stop him either. Devaney was fixated. When you add in the fact that Devaney passed on Ndamukong Suh to launch the Jim Plunket 2.0 story...

Why don't you just drive a truck off a high mountain cliff? How about that strategy for rebuilding the Rams?

Now with all that said, it would appear that Sam Bradford is validating Devaney's decision to take him #1 overall in the 2010 draft. Thus far, Scorpio is looking very good. He looks a whole hell of a lot more like Peyton Manning than JaMarcus Russell. Of course, no one in his right mind expected Bradford to be a Russell. The question is whether he can stay alive, not whether he has tallent or is motivated. I would still bet on the Plunkett outcome.

In the meantime, Bradford is making Devaney look like a loony-toon mad genius.

The key challenge for the Rams in 2010 is to validate the decision to draft Sam Bradford. Let's remember Herm Edward's Law. Having a franchise QB is supposed to equal 4 more victories. The Rams need to finish 5-11 to make the 2010 draft look good. Is this possible? Tentatively, I will say yes, it is possible.. mostly because of the spiraling collapse of the NFC West.

The most surprising story of the 2010 preseason, in my book, has been the Rams sudden offensive strength. The Rams only got toasted in one game: a 28-7 loss to the Vikings. The rest were all victories. In game 3 the Rams popped 36 points on the Patriots. In game 4 the Rams popped 27 on the Ravens. That ain't easy to do folks.

Let's remember that the Rams were 32nd out of 32 teams in offensive point production in 2009. The Rams scored a total of 175 points in 16 games, or 10.9 points per game. The Rams were shutout by both the Seahawks and the Redskins. Both the Seahawks and the Redskins finished in the bottom 6 of the league. How did this team pop 36 on the Patriots? How did they pop 27 on the Ravens? More shocking than this, how did they do that without Steve Jackson in the lineup?

Certainly a lot of the credit belongs to Sam Bradford, but...

More surprising than that was the aggressive play calling of Pat Shurmur. He must have heard folks like me calling for his public Crucifixion. Our cries for blood have been fueled by Shurmur's pathologically conservative play calling. In 2009, you could describe Shurmur as the Anti-Peyton. Well... not during the preaseason of 2010. We can only hope Shurmur keeps it up. Aggression is a beautiful thing in this context.