November 17, 2007

ECB Mascot Nominee

J-Red has been bugging me to finally make my pick for the East Coast Bias college football mascot. I don't watch enough NCAA football to have a lot of options, but based on the rules (cool name, fairly decent player), my choice was easy:

Isiah "Juice" Williams, QB Illinois

Anyone who continues to use the nickname "Juice" after Orenthal tainted it is OK in my book. Maybe Juice can become both the anti-Vick and the anti-OJ at the same time. Plus, he took down Ohio State, which makes me like him even more. He's only a sophomore, so we have another two seasons to watch him in college. I'll be rooting for him.

Previous Nominees:
Jehuu Caulcrick (J-Red)
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (Russell)

The Last Hope

This is quite possibly the best thing ever produced on a sports blog.

From Doubt About It via Ladies...

News on a Saturday?

There is actually some really interesting news breaking on what is typically the slowest news day of the week.

1) A-Rod sought the counsel of the Oracle of Omaha, investor and billionaire Warren Buffett, in handling his contract situation with the Yankees. This is actually the most I've ever liked A-Rod. Rather than chasing the Boras fantasy of $350M, he stayed pat with the team he liked and still made enough money on the deal to be a billionaire himself before he's 60. Kudos to Buffett as well. He has an amazing combination of wealth, charity, wisdom and balls. Not a good week for Boras either, as Kenny Rogers fired him and chose to pursue a contract extension with Detroit on his own. Get ready for some of the most exciting agent/player litigation in history as well. You know A-Rod and Rogers are going to balk at handing over a full commission when they did most of the work.

blahbl Not The Boss, but rather this old man is keeping the Yankmes competitive

2) Shaq agreed with Dwyane Wade's criticisms. The further removed we are from the Kobe/Shaq debacle in Los Angeles, the more obvious it becomes that Shaq is actually the bigger man figuratively as well. Shaq and Wade have always had an excellent relationship, but it's good to see that Shaq isn't going to hide from legitimate criticism. Even Pat Riley thought the exchange was good, though he didn't want it aired in public.

3) Jeff Pearlman has put together a solid playlist that he uses for running. I may adapt it for, well, other forms of exercise.

4) In an unfortunate twist on one of the more inspiring stories of the football season, Dennis Dixon will miss the remainder of the college season after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. Dixon was emerging as a viable Heisman candidate. (Oregon's second such QB in the past decade, which is a testament to Mike Belotti in and of itself, and Onterrio Smith wasn't bad in college either.) Like so many torn ACLs, Dixon tore his without being touched, just catching a cleat in the grass as he made a juke. Anyone who saw Oregon's quasi-upset loss to Arizona saw that Dixon was the factor that made the Ducks think they could make a run.

5) Jon Kitna might actually have a shot at the Republican nomination. Lions WR Roy Williams reportedly was asking Kitna questions about God, and now he appears to have converted. I know many people are uncomfortable with the Bible thumping in the Detroit locker room this season, but whatever works for them is okay with me. It's not like they're turning to Scientology. Wait a second, Kitna turned 35 on September 21st. I shouldn't give him any ideas. The way things are going though, he might still be playing when the Iowa caucus rolls around on January 3rd, 2008.

blahblahblah If the Lions really win 10 games (as I predicted), I'll worship Wayne Fontes.

6) Think the Redskins have a shot in Dallas this weekend? The official afternoon drivetime radio show of ECB, The Don & Mike Show, started Early this week when the site went up, 51% of e-mailers were calling for Gibbs' head. Now 57% want the old man gone. Granted, the anti-Gibbs camp is probably becoming more aware of the effort (which has now garnered over 10,000 hits), but it's not a good sign when your 5-4 team is drawing mostly anger.

7) Not sports related, but friend of ECB Ralph Lebron reports that Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii is a lot of fun and will consume your life. Proceed with caution. I'm still trying to master Hard on Guitar Hero III.

8) I totally believe Ralph Friedgen when he says this is his favorite Terps team, though not his best. They put forth a great effort in today's 24-16 loss at Florida State, but unfortunately just kept barely missing on their comeback attempt. I think they'll find a win to get bowl eligible, which was almost unthinkable two weeks ago after a loss to UNC. I also get a chuckle out of Bobby Bowden every time I see him at the half. When asked about his favorite part of FSU's first half, Bowden said, "The score". Then he had to look up at the scoreboard to see what it was (21-6 Semenholes). When asked what they needed to do in the second half he said, "Get hot again like we were in the first". When asked about the remarkable performance of his converted WR to RB Preston Parker, Bowden just wanted to talk about his fumbling problems. Isn't Bowden just a fan with great seats? Does he actually do any coaching these days? I've never been able to dislike Bowden (or the Steelers, or the Titans, or the Jaguars or Satan), which I know puts me in the minority. He just always makes me laugh because he never seemed to learn coachspeak.

blah A Maryland loss to Florida State has great implic....Jenn Sterger....drool. What?

I Should Run Bodog

Mitchell Report betting is now open. Will your favorite player be amongst the many big names revealed? Does Steinbrenner still have enough clout to keep a Jeter or A-Rod out of the report? Here are some early lines:

Barry Bonds (-50000)
Ken Griffey Jr. (-200)
Joey Cora (+1000)
Bobby Cox (+2500)
Cal Ripken, Jr. (+1,000,000,000)

(There might be a video of Cal shooting all kinds of anabolic steroids into Brady Anderson's ass, but Selig would sooner sodomize Hank Aaron than allow the Mitchell Report to name Ripken.)

November 16, 2007

The Rich get Richer...

So we all know that the Patriots are going to lose their first-round pick in the 2008 draft because of Spygate. Think the Patriots are worried? I don't.

The Patriots happened to somehow obtain the 49ers first-round pick in the 2008 draft as part of their deal with Oakland to obtain Randy Moss. So let's recap... Patriots get who turns out to be the best receiver in the league AND what is likely to be a top-five overall pick. The Patriots, because of Spygate, will lose what likely will wind up being the 32nd pick.

As Bill Simmons points out in his column this week, at this point the Patriots having the 49ers first round pick and watching them totally fall apart is like owning a casino and watching Charles Barkley walk in.

Early Season Scare

Holy crap. I forgot the Terps had a game last night (and it was actually on a TV channel I get, not ESPNU). I remembered this morning on my way to work, so imagine my surprise when I checked the box score and saw this. 74-72 Maryland over Northeastern in OT. I guess Maryland came out of this game better than a lot of the big name schools have fared in their early outings. Still, I remember a time when most of Maryland's non-conference schedule was a boring warm-up to ACC play. The outcome of the games was never in doubt, and the team just accumulated wins. Remember the 87 game home non-conference winning streak? Ancient history.

I haven't gotten a chance to watch the team at all this year (I know, I'm a shitty fan), but I'm still excited for the season. I have a feeling the team's going to be frustrating to watch at times, but very likable. We have a young core group of players, and it's going to be great watching them develop and grow as a team. I have the utmost confidence in Gary, but I think we're going to see the team suffer some bad losses this year as they continue to develop. I think we'll also see some surprising wins.

The Terps have #2 UCLA on Monday in the Semifinals of the CBE Classic. That should be a learning experience for the Terps, but UCLA would be unwise to overlook Maryland. Then on Tuesday, they will play either Missouri or #12 Michigan State. Next week will definitely be a trial by fire for a young Maryland team, but if nothing else, it should give the freshmen some big-game experience before the start of ACC season.

It Never Rains in College Park has a breakdown of some of the odd stats from the game.

My superficial box score analysis: we're not going to win many games where Greivis scores in the single digits. We're also not going to win many games when we get only 6 bench points. Bench scoring has been a key part of Maryland's success over the years, and with a young team we need everyone to contribute.

Bonds Ramifications

Kevin Ryan, the U.S. Attorney who initiated the BALCO investigation but recently resigned, said on ESPN this evening that Bonds could go to trial within 60 days, though his lawyers could drag it out for up to a year.

Here's some advice to Bonds and his legal team: RACE THIS TO TRIAL. The Mitchell Report is looming on the horizon, and while it would be hearsay, it could give the Feds additional avenues of investigation. Plus, when you are dealing with perjury and obstruction of justice, there is almost no such thing as exculpatory evidence. If you can't show you didn't lie before, you likely can't later. On the other hand, evidence that you DID lie may surface.

The Mitchell Report is a wild card in and of itself. If it names a bunch of fan favorites, people will suddenly not be angry anymore. They might still wants Bonds' head so they feel some symbolic cleansing. If it names a bunch of David Seguis and Jay Gibbonses, fans will be full throttle against Bonds and the other lesser victims.

What does Selig do now? He so desperately wanted to make his disdain for Bonds known during the chase, and now he has a legitimate platform to take a real stand. He can vacate the record, reinstating his friend Hank Aaron's number as the official mark. To accomplish that he only has to invalidate any season's total (except the injury shortened 5HR 2005 season). His options are wide open, and he can play wait and see.

November 15, 2007

Bonds Indicted

If I have Barry Bonds home run ball number 762, I am walking on air today.

Bonds was finally indicted on federal perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his BALCO testimony. It is almost a foregone conclusion, then, that no team will take a flyer on him at least at the beginning of 2008. If he does any time, he may have to sit out 2008 altogether.

So MLB might have the luxury of killing two birds with one stone. They are nervous that the 756 ball they receive will be branded with an asterisk. That's not something they want on display. But why bother displaying 756 when the new total is 762? That would be kind of silly. They might as well put 762 on display.

Week 11 NFL Against the Spread Picks

Getting down to crunch time...

Brien (23-25-2, .480 )

I really didn't see a lot to like in the lines this week, but here goes:

San Diego (+3) over JACKSONVILLE - Alright, I'm a believer in the Chargers now, even with Norville at the helm.

MINNESOTA (-6) over Oakland - Purple Jesus is out, but the Vikings are still a touchdown better than the Raiders.

Arizona (+3) over Cincinnati - The Bengals' only wins are over the Jets and the Ravens (twice).

Tampa Bay (-3) over ATLANTA - I'm amazed at how little we've heard about Mike Vick since the season started (not that I'm complaining). The Bucs seem to beat the teams they should beat, and lose to any team that's mildly competitive. The Falcons obviously fall into the former category.

Tennessee (+2.5) over DENVER - I don't think the Broncos have it in them to repeat their performance against the Steelers in their last night game.

Jeremy and Magic 8 (24-21-5, .530 & 28-17-5, .610)

Jeremy's Picks:

So another week and I'm hanging on for dear life to first place amongst the human pickers. Despite J-Red's best efforts to sabotage me by trying to convince me to hop on the Detroit bandwagon, he still hasn't caught me. This is the time of year when that can very easily change. On to the picks:

San Diego (+3) over JACKSONVILLE - This is a very odd line... I guess Jags are getting a lot of credit for their D and for home field, but it's easier to go eastbound than westbound, Jacksonville is a pretty mellow place to play, and the Chargers can win despite PhiLLLLip.

Arizona (+3) over CINCINNATI - Another strange line... the Cards stuck it to the Lions pretty hard last week and I wouldn't be too enthusiastic about the Bengals offense or defense after a win over the Ravens. Edgerrin has this game circled on his calendar.

Kansas City (+14.5) over INDIANAPOLIS - Chiefs' defense isn't that bad, and the Colts don't run up the score the way the Pats do.

Cleveland (-3) over BALTIMORE - I'm doing this on the assumption that Derek Anderson will be throwing into a secondary still depleted by injuries.

I should pick a home team... or maybe not...

St. Louis (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO - I think we're seeing the Rams turn the corner now, and San Francisco looked downright pitiful on Monday night... Rams are better than 1-8, I swear.

Magic 8 Ball's Picks:

You know I'm having a good year when 3-2 drops my overall winning percentage.

JACKSONVILLE (-3) over San Diego - "My sources say yes." [Jags beat spread]

Arizona (+3) over CINCINNATI - "Don't count on it." [Bengals beating spread]

Kansas City (+14.5) over INDIANAPOLIS - "Don't count on it." [Colts beating spread]

BALTIMORE (+3) over Cleveland - "Signs point to yes." [Ravens beating spread]

St. Louis (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO - "My answer is no." [49ers won't beat spread]

J-Red (24-23-3, .510)

Pittsburgh (-9) over NY JETS - Pittsburgh is now seriously in the first-round bye race following the Indy loss. They have to know ducking trips to Indy and NE is the only way they can sneak into the Super Bowl.

DETROIT (+2.5) over NY Giants - Jeremy is right. Detroit is much better at home.

Tampa Bay (-3) over ATLANTA - I don't get TB either, but decent coaching, decent running, decent quarterbacking and a decent defense is more than 3 points better than anything Atlanta has.

JACKSONVILLE (-3) over San Diego - San Diego's run D is very much missing Luis Castillo. It comes down to which coach is more comfortable running straight ahead for three quarters before finally breaking one. Del Rio makes me feel better.

New Orleans (pk) over HOUSTON - It's a four-hour road trip to a non-hostile environment with the playoffs still somewhat on the line. I like NO to bounce back.

Russell (22-27-1, .450)

Bad teams at home doesn't mean they're not bad teams...

Oakland (+6) over MINNESOTA - The Vikings are 0-6 in their last 8 games when AD doesn't rush for 200+. Add in that their best receiver is questionable and Tarvaris is back, and that equals no offense. Chester Taylor is not Adrian Peterson.

Cleveland (-3) over BALTIMORE - Baltimore is 1-8 ATS, while Cleveland still isn't getting the respect they deserve. And my comments about the injured Ravens secondary hold this week as well against the Browns' air attack. Kyle Boller might not even have Demetrius Williams or Todd Heap to throw to.

St. Louis (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO - Two teams headed in opposite directions. The Rams are finally getting healthy and confident, and the 49ers are just abysmal.

Tampa Bay (-3) over ATLANTA - The Falcons' victories over the 49ers and the Panthers (winless since last Nov at home) should not impress.

DETROIT (+2.5) over NY Giants - I'd like an extra half point, but Detroit is 4-0 at home (3-1 ATS in those games). The last 4 games ofthe Giants' vaunted winning streak were the Jets, Falcons, 49ers, and Dolphins, 4 of the absolute worst teams I can remember. And the Giants always suck in the second half.


Magic 8 (28-17-5 for .610)
Jeremy (24-21-5 for .530)
J-Red (24-23-3 for .510)
Brien (23-25-2 for .480)
Russell (22-27-1 for .450)


Brien - ARI, MIN, SD, TB, TEN
Jeremy - ARI, CLE, KC, SD, STL
Russell - CLE, DET, OAK, STL, TB
Magic 8 - ARI, BAL, JAX, KC, STL

November 14, 2007

Week 12 CFB Picks

I'm saving all my good picks for next week. Since I've had so few, I need to stock up.

Ohio State (-3.5) over MICHIGAN - OSU has consistently beaten teams that play like Michigan all season. If Henne and Hart were healthy, I would probably take Michigan, but Mallett and Minor, or even Henne and Hart at 70%, won't be enough. Even if this is Lloyd Carr's last game and Michigan gets really fired up, I just don't think they can do it this year. However, I will be rooting for a Biakabutuka-like performance from some Michigan player.

Maryland (+7.5) over FLORIDA STATE - Maryland has played really well against FSU the last few years, and FSU has all sorts of QB issues.

Last Week: 2-5
Season: 34-46-3

Michigan Wolverines - Bush League Hecklers

I received this e-mail forwarded to me from our avid reader (and guest poster) Ben, that gives one Wolverine's fan's "Keys to Heckling" at basketball games:

My keys to heckling are these:
-- Wait for it to be quiet. There is no point of yelling at the same time everybody else does, or if the pep band is playing, etc. You'll get your chance. You may even have to wait for a possession or two, or wait for the calling official to rotate to your side of the court. Be patient.
-- Try to avoid foul language for the kiddies. However, use of the word ass is acceptable. An old favorite of mine that works in any situation is, "Get your head out of your ass!"
-- You only get 3-5 seconds, so make them count. One of my favorite heckles was from the UCLA game a couple of years ago, where Ed Corbett called a terrible charge on us with 5:00 to go as we were trying to rally: "Corbett, if you had one more eye, you'd be a Cyclops!"
-- Use name and personal information wherever possible. My brother and I research this so we are prepared. One official, Sid Rodeheffer, made a bad call on a block/charge. I knew his hometown. So I heckled, "Sid, you can take that call straight back to Findlay, Ohio."
-- Wywrot used to put the officials' names in the game notes PDF on the day before the game, but he doesn't anymore. I'd like to think I motivated him to take the names out due to all my heckling. But if he thinks taking the names out means I won't be able to identify any ref in the Big Ten, he has sorely underestimated me.

This is one reason why NOBODY fears playing in Crisler Arena. Wow. Congratulations, you know the referees by name. And you make references to Greek mythology in your heckling. Heckling in college basketball has to be below the belt for it to be effective. We at Maryland are proud that Duke basketball players called our students merciless in Sports Illustrated for tracking down their Facebook profiles to get ammo to heckle them on. And you need to go after a player or coach's most embarrassing moment... one that you know will burn like hell for them to hear. Much like how J-Red actually goaded Al Groh to come over to the student section at Byrd Stadium by heckling him about his post-9/11 comment about being glad there were no Arabs on his team so that he wasn't afraid to fly with them. I won't even approach the foul language issue. I personally believe that it can be avoided, but that it often times has a very good effect. But this is priceless that this Wolverine fan actually uses these comments as "keys to heckling." That'd be like Helen Keller drafting a pamphlet on "keys to mastering your eye exam."

I wish this was made up...

So in keeping with Ben's characterization of me as the Tony Kornheiser of this blog with questionable sports knowledge and way too many pop culture references, I bring you this, out of the gossip section of today's Washington Post:

Boy George was charged with false imprisonment yesterday in London, according to British police. The pop singer, whose real name is George O'Dowd, is alleged to have chained a 28-year-old Norwegian man to the wall of his London home in April.

REACT: I'm as big a fan of "Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me" as anybody else... truly a semenal (intentional misspelling) song of the 80s. But wow. Nicely done, Mr. O'Dowd. This will be classified under the subhead of "when fetishes go too far." And seriously... chains? Granted, my only experience with people well-versed in the whole bondage thing was living on the same floor in Ellicott Hall of a guy and girl who used to tie each other up for fun and the whole thing became public in a very embarrassing way (for them, humorous for us). But these people used handcuffs and hankerchiefs. Boy George ain't fooling around using chains. Plus, what exactly did the Norwegian guy fill out on his entry form under the purpose of his visit when he entered UK customs? I suppose "pleasure?" Definitely not "vacation." Maybe "business."

November 13, 2007

GUEST POST: Michigan-Ohio State Preview

Having been accused of having too much of an East Coast Bias, apparently there is some sort of football contest taking place in Ann Arbor this weekend. We here at ECB turn to one of our six readers, Ben, who will provide us with guest commentary and a preview of the game. Who better to turn to than somebody who actually braved going into the Horseshoe on numerous occasions wearing the maize and blue... who would quite possibly, if he were ever elected President, declare a national holiday for this game?
As I am the blog’s unofficial Michigan expert (sorry, Mr. Anonymous from the Detroit area), I have been asked to breakdown the Big Ten Championship game. You know, it’s the one that alternates between Ann Arbor and Columbus every year.

I’m not really sure what this Midwest showdown has to do with the ECB blog, but seeing as how J-Red asserted Ohioans aren’t really Midwestern, maybe he is claiming them for the East coast. J-Red, you can have ’em.

The luster and significance has definitely diminished with Ohio State’s loss to Illinois, but it’s still a fight for the Rose Bowl and it’s still one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports (as consistently voted on by ESPN’s SportsNation). I could go on forever…but Jeremy told me not to. I’ll try to keep this somewhat brief.

Passing Game
Chad Henne never lit the world on fire, but he’s made a living off making the right decision. As always, Michigan is loaded with top-flight receivers. All that should add up to a great passing attack. Of course, that’s what we all thought before the year began. Then they actually had to play and the problems started. Henne has played through pain all year, and he will shoot up with whatever he needs to this week to stay on the field (and keep Ryan Mallett off the field).
As of late, Mario Manningham returned to form. You wouldn’t know it based on the stats, but he was rather alarmingly manhandled last week by Wisconsin’s Jack Ikegwuonu (figure that name out). If All-American caliber Malcom Jenkins can also take him out of his routes with one-on-one coverage, that will be step one to Ohio State killing Michigan.

23-year-old junior Todd Boeckman turned out to be a star in waiting behind Troy Smith. I’m not going to give him the Heisman love that Skip Bayless did (Bayless is an idiot) but he’s showing great accuracy, poise and decision making. He should, he’s twenty-freaking-three-years-old. It’s not quite Chris Weinke, but still. The balance on offense gives him the ability to really spread the ball around, primarily with deep threat Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Michigan’s secondary improved quickly. True freshman Donovan Warren has been starting much of the year. Learn his name. He’s getting Ty Law and Charles Woodson comparisons for a reason. But the defensive backs have to get some help from the front seven to shut down the passing game. Aye, there’s the rub.
Advantage: Ohio State

Running Game
When healthy, Mike Hart is pretty much unstoppable running behind Jake Long. Problem is he’s not healthy. He isn’t quite able to make all the cuts that have propelled him to become Michigan’s all-time leading rusher, but against Michigan State a couple weeks ago, he looked like he had some power. Still, the odds of seeing Hart limp off the field before halftime are pretty good. Meanwhile, Ohio State has stopped just about everyone from running the ball, and Michigan’s line looked shockingly weak against Wisconsin. James Laurinaitis will be all over the field making tackles.

Chris “Beanie” Wells and Maurice Wells are not related, but they make a fine pair, nonetheless. Beanie is having that monster year we all knew he would, despite his own injury problems. Once again, the Ohio State line has just been pushing everyone off the ball and making holes. At times, Michigan’s run defense has played like gang busters and at other times it has gotten utterly gashed. Other than linebacker Shawn Crable, Michigan has not shown any speed on defense, which means that when Beanie gets into the open field, he’s probably gone…as happened on a big run in last year’s game.
Advantage: Ohio State

Special Teams
There’s not much to analyze. Both teams have them. Michigan’s kicking game improved dramatically once the Wolverines finally switched kickers. Michigan stud punter has not appeared so studly lately, which is a major concern. Also, Ohio State’s Hartline is a much better kick returner than anyone running back kicks for Michigan. Ohio State could be getting lots of good field position.
Advantage: Ohio State

You’d have to be an IDIOT to say Michigan has the advantage here. There’s probably a good reason that Ohio State has been one of the top three programs in college football ever since Jim “Lord and Savior” Tressel arrived, and Michigan has sort of stayed borderline relevant in that time. And let’s of course not forget that 5-1 record Tressel has against Michigan, sometimes getting wins with less talent.
Advantage: Ohio State

Aha! Here’s one where I can finally give it to Michigan, because intangibles are b.s. ABC will once again be drooling all over the delicious storylines: It’s the anniversary of Bo Schembechler’s death! Is Lloyd Carr retiring? (edit by Jeremy to add that according to various blogs... we know how accurate they are... Carr is in fact retiring) Henne, Hart and Long all came back for this game! Can Ohio State still sneak back into the national championship? Meanwhile, the rest of the world outside of Michigan and Ohio will want to throw up and watch some SEC football. Ohio State will rebound emotionally, but they will still be just a little deflated from the Illinois loss. Michigan at home, wanting to win one for Lloyd, Hart, Henne and Long, knowing they’re the underdog, will play the game of their lives. Michigan has played their best against Tressel when they’ve been the underdog, even when it still results in a loss. They’ve never been this much of an underdog to Ohio State before, so that must mean they’ll play that much better…right?
Advantage: Michigan

Michigan’s senior quarterback and running back are banged up. They fell flat on their face early, and stubbed their toe late. They are not as strong or fast as Ohio State, which is exactly what killed them last week at Wisconsin. Tressel achieved god status in Columbus for his repeated wins over Lloyd Carr. Pretty much, no reasonable person would pick Michigan to win. But I cannot bring myself to say I think Ohio State will win. If Michigan were 0-11 and Ohio State were 11-0, I’d look for reasons to pick Michigan. Just for good measure, I’ll throw in that the final play of the game is a Henne touchdown pass to Adrian Arrington. My unabashed, total homer pick:

Michigan 23, Ohio State 21

Week 10 Recap and Standings

Recap and Standings


Magic 8 (3-2-0) - ARI, DAL, MIN, PIT, SD
Jeremy (3-2-0) - CLE, DAL, DET, GB, IND
J-Red (2-2-1) - BUF, CLE, DAL, DET, NO
Brien (2-2-1) - BUF, DAL, DET, GB, IND
Russell (4-1-0) - ARI, CIN, GB, NYG, SEA


Magic 8 (28-17-5 for .610)
Jeremy (24-21-5 for .530)
J-Red (24-23-3 for .510)
Brien (23-25-2 for .480)
Russell (22-27-1 for .450)

Magic 8
Jeremy - 4 GB
J-Red - 5 GB, 1 GB human
Brien - 6.5 GB, 2.5 GB human
Russell - 8 GB, 4 GB human

November 11, 2007

The End of an Era

In Baltimore today, we saw the end of an era. No matter what happens the rest of the season (unless they run the table), the Ravens will be rebuilding in the off-season. Billick will be gone, after overstaying his welcome by only about 3-4 years. McNair is finished as a starting quarterback in the NFL (there's no shame in that, he had a great career, but he's past his prime). The talk of Kyle Boller as a potential starter is done for good.

Billick managed to save his job last year by what, in hindsight, was clearly some amazing luck. He took over play calling at a time when the team got hot and rolled off a few wins. This year has proven that his play calling isn't anything special, certainly not good enough to make up for the fact that he's an asshole.

The quarterback situation in Baltimore has been a disaster for as long as I can remember, the only period of stability was McNair's run last year. And really, even that wasn't very stable, because everyone knew that he only had a limited amount of time before his aging body caught up with him. Boller has managed to hang around by being just good enough not to get cut. He's impressive in low-pressure situations, like pre-season games and the waning minutes of blowouts. Other than that, he sucks.

The defense, which for years was the pride of the city, is a shadow of its former self. The Ravens defense is still good, but it's certainly not as good as the players think it is. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs aren't striking fear in the heart of opposing players any more.

Food for thought:

  • The Ravens are 0-4 in the AFC North. It's not like they're playing the Colts, Jaguars, and Titans twice a year. And regardless, you have to win a few in your division every year. Otherwise you end up like the Browns.
  • Number of points the Ravens have scored in the past two games while the outcome was in doubt: 0. That's right, zero. Last week, the Ravens touchdown came after it was already 35-0 in the first half. This week, the touchdown came late in the 4th quarter after it was 21-0 Bengals. So the Ravens offense has been even worse than it has looked on the scoreboard lately.
  • I know this point was beat to death during the telecast, but it bears repeating here: the Bengals defense was ranked dead last in points allowed. They hadn't allowed fewer than 20 points in a game all year. The Ravens only managed to avoid being shut out by scoring a meaningless touchdown late.
  • The Ravens are 1-8 against the spread (of course their one cover, the blowout win over the Rams, was the one time I picked against them).
So for Ravens fans, the question becomes: What Now? The answer is rebuilding.

  1. Bring in a new coach. People will suggest Rex Ryan or Rick Neuheisel, but what the team really needs is fresh blood. Find a young assistant somewhere else, and bring him in (like the Steelers did with Tomlin).
  2. Let the new coach pick his QB in the draft, and be willing to trade up to get the guy he wants (probably Matt Ryan is a reasonable choice).
  3. Go through the roster and cut players to find cap room. Jon Ogden has been an institution for the Ravens, but he's done. McNair is done. There's plenty of fat to be trimmed, and the Ravens need cap space to be able to go after some select free agents in the offseason.
  4. Pick a few current players to build the team around (including the new quarterback). Willis McGahee, Bart Scott, Ed Reed, Kelly Gregg.
  5. Get ready for a few years of losing, because it's a long road back to the top (and don't be too jealous of the Steelers' success).


I agree with most of what Brien said, except that I don't think full-on rebuilding is necessary. The Ravens have one weak position on offense (QB, obviously) and one weak position on defense (CB). Otherwise there is good depth and talent at all positions.

It was a very strange atmosphere in the stadium today. People were ready to boo from the first drive, but most negativity was directed at Billick. When Cincy went up 9-0, the stadium acted like the game and season were totally over, and they actually relaxed and got quite funny. For a while there was a running joke to start chanting the name of a horrible quarterback we used to have, like Eric Zeier, Scott Mitchell, and Stoney Case. Then a younger guy had a huge sign that said "We Want Marty" (Schottenheimer, and I wouldn't be opposed to that) and he got a pretty good cheer going, but most of the drunks just started yelling things about Marty Bass.

When McNair randomly dropped the ball in the fourth quarter, the entire stadium erupted in laughter at the same time. It was actually a very pleasant atmosphere in the second half because most of the grumps walked out at the end of the third quarter. I think everyone accepted at the same time that a) we don't have a quarterback and b) we don't have a coach who can work around not having a quarterback. So the season's over, but now that expectations are gone it's actually more fun to go to games. Plus, it'll actually be exciting if we can beat Cleveland next week, rather than just a relief.

Two other highlights: the popped up kickoff that Cincy recovered was hilarious. I was yelling "fair catch! fair catch!" and I was legitimately surprised not to see one called. On the play that Billick challenged where the Cincy receiver made a great toe drag at the sideline, the entire stadium had already seen the replay and people were saying "That's a great catch" to each other. When Billick threw the challenge flag, the entire stadium booed. It was definitely Fans v. Billick, not Ravens v. Bengals."

For the record, I favor Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Cowher (he's Carolina's or Washington's though) or Rex Ryan as the next head coach. The offense is too tainted to allow Neuheisel to take over. I am not opposed to letting Rex have the interim coaching gig for the rest of the season.

Highlights from BC/Maryland

Excellent ten-minute highlight package from last night's game. Well, it's a little one-sided, because it doesn't show any of BC's 35 points. Two thoughts:

1) Maybe this is what happens when you say "screw it" and just unleash all your weapons. And the thing is, we've had these weapons since Turner took over against Rutgers. Where was this offense against UVA, Clemson, and UNC?

2) I have zippy voice this morning and it's funny, but if you had asked me if Byrd was as loud as it sounds in these highlights, I would've told you no way. But now that I remember, given that even the old ladies in my section who normally scream at people to sit down were jumping up and down and going nuts last night, I suppose Byrd may really have been that loud.

A Blogspot Intervention

So far be it for me to call out my brethren of the blog, but readers (all six of you), it's time for an intervention.

My lovely wife is in Atlantic City this weekend at a bachelorette party. All I know is that this bachelorette party involves some all male revue, which you have to question the quality of in Atlantic City. But I digress. That left one of my tickets for the Maryland/Boston College game available. The ticket went to J-Red.

In this post, much like the commercial, J-Red, I am officially questioning your fanhood. You see folks, J-Red picked a woman, over this game. The ticket was his. Yet he ended up not going. And where was J-Red when Maryland went up 42-21 on Hey-Bey's sick reverse? Well I put in a call to make sure that he was at least watching, and he was. From the inside of a restaurant.

I know that women make the world go 'round, really, I do. But readers, what say you? In J-Red's defense, he's going to the Bungles-Ravens game tomorrow afternoon so I'm guessing he was assuming like most of us (myself included) that Maryland would lose and therefore his fragile temperament could not take two football losses in one weekend. It was also cold, yes. But the bottom line is that while I was on the field after the game slapping high five with Chris Turner and Darrius Heyward-Bey after a stunning home upset over a top-10 team, J-Red was maybe earning the fruits of his dinner.

Readers, please assist me in my intervention. Bring J-Red back home from the dark side. Help ensure that he is a red-blooded male sports fan again. He may have proven he is a red-blooded male in other ways tonight, but that is not for this blog.