October 24, 2009

Redskins' Coach Zorn, GM Cerrato Go All In to Save Their Jobs

There is almost never anything positive to say about the Redskins' management the past decade, but this week Danny Snyder toadie Vinny Cerrato actually did something right. By giving head coach Jim Zorn the season-long vote of confidence, Cerrato and Snyder sent a clear message to the players to stop looking over their shoulders. They also sent the message that NO job is safe after the season.

Every player, from Jason Campbell to Clinton Portis, is on the chopping block now. Since Cerrato has linked himself to Zorn, they are likely both gone after this season absent a startling show of motivation and strategy. New GM and new head coach means no job is safe. Just look at the Cleveland Jets when Mangini took over, or the Dallas Jets when Parcells took over. Big name guys like to bring in people they trust.

Will the Redskins win more than 6 games this season? Almost certainly not. Still, Cerrato's move is the best talent evaluation tool he had remaining. Every player must play his best the rest of the way. With some breaks, maybe Cerrato keeps his job. That's all a Redskins hater like me can hope to see.

Paul Tagliabue was Wrong About Jacksonville

One of the greatest pleasures in life is saying “I told you so,” even if it’s 16 years later and the target is retired.  So here goes: Paul Tagliabue, you were wrong about Jacksonville, and I told you so.

In 1993, when the NFL decided to expand from 28 to 30 teams, five finalists were selected: Charlotte, St. Louis, Baltimore, Memphis, and Jacksonville.  Everyone assumed that the two winners would be Charlotte and either St. Louis or Baltimore, but Paul Tagliabue’s love for the “Sun Belt” led the NFL to award the second team to Jacksonville amid widespread criticism.

How’s that decision looking now, Paul?  The Jaguars haven’t sold out any of their 3 home games this year.  In fact, they haven’t cracked the 50,000 mark in attendance for a stadium that seats 76,877.  The Jaguars also can’t find anyone to buy the naming rights to the stadium after their deal with Alltel expired.

As for the other 3 finalists, they all have teams now (except Memphis, but the Titans in Nashville get lots of support from Memphis).  The Rams, Ravens, and Titans all have passionate fans who pack the stadium week after week while Jacksonville seems less and less interested in having a team each year.

If Tagliabue had picked St. Louis, the Rams might never have moved from LA.  If he had picked Baltimore, the Browns might have stayed in Cleveland, and the 32nd team would have gone to LA.  So basically, Tagliabue’s decision led to the NFL having a team in Jacksonville instead of Los Angeles.  Great job, hall of famer.

October 23, 2009

NFL Picks - Week 7

A tough week for most of us last week - some very unexpected results on the field. About the only pick we all got right was the Chiefs getting points against the Redskins. Vegas probably lost a lot of money on that one. On to the picks...

Odds from Doc's Sports

Brien (18-12-0)
4-1 again. This is when the statisticians bring up regression to the mean, and with good reason.

San Diego (-4.5) over KANSAS CITY - I realize the Chargers have underachieved a bit this year, but their losses are DEN, @PIT, and BAL. Plus, the Chiefs are putrid.

CINCINNATI (-1.5) over Chicago - The Bengals are probably a bit overrated, but I like them to bounce back here.

San Francisco (+3) over HOUSTON - I just have a feeling the 49ers are better than Vegas has realized so far.

New Orleans (-6) over MIAMI - The Saints pasted the Giants last week. I think they can handle the Dolphins.

Atlanta (+4) over DALLAS - The Cowboys are coming off a bye, but it really feels like they are losing momentum this year while the Falcons are gaining it.

Jason (15-15-0)

Doing my part to prove that nobody gets rich betting on the NFL, unless they're convincing others that they know a trick to betting on the NFL.

TAMPA BAY (+14.5) over New England - The trip to London should throw both teams off, which I'm hopeful keeps the score down.

MIAMI (+6) over New Orleans - I think Miami is actually finding a stride and New Orleans might face a road letdown after last week's big win.

PITTSBURGH (-4) over Minnesota - The Ravens hurt Minnesota's defense, and this is Minny's first outdoor game of the year.

WASHINGTON (+7) over Philadelphia - This is a WTF line, and I'm jumping on it.

San Diego (-4.5) over KANSAS CITY - Arrowhead is a tough place to play, but unless San Diego is giving up, this is a place to make a stand.

Jeremy (11-19-0)
Holy crap - I go shooting off about my 4-1 week and follow it up with 1-4. Now I need to go above .500 pretty much every remaining week just to finish at respectability. This is not good. I blame Vinny Cerrato. To switch it up, I'm going to pick all road teams this week:

San Diego (-4.5) over KANSAS CITY - Arrowhead is not kind to divisional opponents but I watched an entire Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday. They are dreadful.

Minnesota (+4) over PITTSBURGH - And Heinz field isn't kind to any opponents, but a wet track on Sunday could surely favor Brett Favre and his receiving corps, although the Steelers' secondary is much more stout than the Ravens'.

Atlanta (+4) over DALLAS - Atlanta looked pretty good against Chicago. Granted, a short week to prepare, but the Cowboys are pretty damn dysfunctional right now.

Indianapolis (-13) over ST. LOUIS - St. Louis looked better with Bulger under center, but Indianapolis has way, way, way too many weapons to keep this one close.

Philadelphia (-7) over WASHINGTON - So much that I could say about this game and why I suspect it will be a truly epic fail by the Redskins. Suffice it to say, I'd take the Eagles at way more than seven playing in Lincoln Financial Field @ Landover.

Magic 8 Ball (9-21-0)

It may be time to retire the Magic 8 Ball this season. 9-21 is really, really, really hard to accomplish, actually.

KANSAS CITY (+4) over San Diego - "Yes." (Chiefs will beat the spread)
Minnesota (+4) over PITTSBURGH - "Don't count on it." (Steelers won't beat the spread)
Atlanta (+4) over DALLAS - "My answer is no." (Cowboys won't beat the spread)
Indianapolis (-13) over ST. LOUIS - "My answer is no." (Rams won't beat the spread)
WASHINGTON (+7) over Philadelphia - "Signs point to yes." (Redskins will beat the spread)

Russell (14-16-0)
I'd just like to point out that if Sanchez only throws 4 INTs last week, I had a winning week. And by the way, "PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?" in response to Richard Seymour. Thanks, Jim Mora.

Indy (-13) over STL
- The Rams are bad. Don't be fooled by last week, the Jags are bad too.

Green Bay (-9) over CLEVELAND
- The Browns are still the Browns.

San Francisco (+3) over HOUSTON
- After the embarrassment two weeks ago, with players showboating in ridiculous situations, how do you think that bye week went for the 49ers? Would you want Mike Singletary in your face for 2 full weeks about the same terrible performance? Didn't think so. Plus Gore should be back.

New England (-14.5) over TAMPA BAY
- Last week's 59-0 slaughter was probably against a better team than the Bucs.

Philadelphia (-7) over WASHINGTON
- First, the Skins are awful. Second, if you like Zorn, you're not going to be inspired to make him look bad by playing better for the new play-caller. Did we mention the Skins' play-caller was calling BINGO 2 weeks ago? This is the NFL...

Brien: SD, CIN, SF, NO, ATL
Jason: MIA, PIT, SD, TB, WAS
Jeremy: ATL, IND, MIN, PHI, SD
Russell: IND, GB, SF, NE, PHI

For NFL handicapping advice from people who actually know what they're talking about, check out Doc's Sports.

College Football Picks - Week 8

Kind of a quiet week in college football, but those are the ones that sneak up on you and ruin your season. So the good teams need to stay focused against lesser opposition.

VIRGINIA (+5) over Georgia Tech - Tech is 0-8 since 1990 at Charlottesville, and UVA will play hard. They still control their own destiny in the ACC. UVA also won at Atlanta vs the option last year, so you can't expect the GT offense to confuse them too much.

UConn (+7.5) over WEST VIRGINIA - When one of your teammates is stabbed to death, and the team decides to play, you can expect their very best effort. The Huskies weren't bad to start with.

MICHIGAN (+4) over Penn State - When was the last time PSU won in Ann Arbor? I think it's been a while, and this Michigan is fully capable of upholding that tradition.

KANSAS (+8) over Oklahoma - I expect a flat performance from the Sooners. They have 3 losses at this point in the season for the first time in ages, and Bradford's done for the year. What do they have left to play for?

Arkansas (+6.5) over OLE MISS - First, Ole Miss hasn't looked good all year, and Arkansas is pumped up after beating Florida for 59 minutes. In addition, there's the Houston Nutt issue, and then the fight song has to be distracting this week. Apparently "the South will rise again" is part of Ole Miss' fight song. I don't have a problem with most things Southern, but that seems to me to be a little much, especially in Mississippi of all places.

MICHIGAN STATE (-1.5) over Iowa - The dream finally ends for the Hawkeyes, though they still may win the Big 11.

BYU (+2.5) over Tcu - Let's all remember that BYU was good enough to beat Oklahoma when Bradford was healthy entering the game. TCU's strength is defense, and BYU has already dealt with OU's, which is pretty good too. BYU wins in the 4th as the altitude saps the Frogs.

That's right, it's a 'dogs weekend. Not the Dawgs, they have a bye.

Last week: 5-2
Season: 27-22

Maryland's Vasquez Named Most Entertaining in Hoops

At least Maryland again tops one list...

See the list, and 2 through 16, here.

Ben Roethlisberger Sexual Assault Victim Survives Summary Judgment

The story on ESPN.

"I'm here to fix deine cable. Ich bin expert."

"You can imagine where it goes from here."

"She fixes the cable?"

This morning a Nevada judge ruled against Ben Roethlisberger in his efforts to have the claims that he sexually assaulted a Harrah's casino employee dismissed. The standard at this stage, known as the "summary judgment" stage, is very tough. Roethlisberger had to prove that even if all the evidence was taken in the light most favorable to the victim she still wouldn't not have enough to win her case. So at this level her credibility is not a factor - her allegations are presumed to be true.

The bad news for Roethlisberger is that the case rolls on, which can only lead to more embarrassment for him.

NFL’s Most Annoying Fans - AFC South

This is the third in a running feature at ECB. We'll be rating NFL Fanbases by annoyingness and picking a winner for each division. After that, we'll select wild card teams, and have ourselves a little playoff. If you have suggestions for upcoming divisions or wildcard selections, send them to [email protected].  For previous entries, see here.

Indianapolis Colts

Quick Reaction: Colts fans somehow have the weakest reputation of any Midwestern fan base (other than the Rams).  This is almost certainly due to a lack of history, dome play, and Indy being a second-tier city. 

The most annoying feature of Colts fans is their unwillingness to listen to any criticism of Peyton Manning.  Most fan bases are a bit in the tank for their signal caller, but Colts fans love Pey-Pey a bit too much.

Houston Texans

 Quick Reaction: There’s always something a little annoying about expansion team fans.  You always question what they were doing before the team arrived.  Were they Cowboys fans?  College Football?  Astros? 

Expansion fans haven’t suffered together as a fan base for years, they have no shared experience, and everything still has that new car smell (even after 7 years).

Jacksonville Jaguars

jaguars fans

Quick Reaction: If you can’t sell out your stadium, I’m not sure if that qualifies you as annoying or just non-existent. 

Tennessee Titans

 Quick Reaction: Titans fans come across as relatively normal people, except they probably would spend far too much time telling you how the Grand Ole Opry is a great tourist attraction. 

Even though they’re still a relatively new team, I feel like the Titans developed an identity very quickly, which can help to make their fans less annoying (or sometimes more annoying).

The Big Winner

Jacksonville Jaguars - I considered giving them a pass because there aren’t enough of them to be annoying, but I’m sure there are tons of people walking around Jacksonville wearing Jaguars jerseys who can’t bother themselves to buy a ticket to a game that isn’t sold out.  And when you get down to it, that’s one of the most annoying things a “fan” can do.

October 21, 2009

Steve Phillips - New Meaning to "Slumpbuster"

So by now we've all heard the allegations of Steve Phillips having had an affair with a 22-year-old production assistant and that said production assistant went all fatal attraction on his family, friending his son on Facebook and sending his wife letters describing birthmarks on his nether regions. If you didn't hear this yet, please consider ECB your breaking news source.

Well, ECB and numerous others have obtained a picture of the 22-year-old sure-to-be hot piece of tail who Steve Phillips was willing to risk career and family for:

Ummmm, really? I guess this must have just been a bad picture. I mean, you know that somebody worth millions is going to make the affair that jeopardizes career and family really worthwhile, right?

Wow. Click on the pictures for enlarged images just to be sure it's as bad as you think (and shield your eyes as you do). And to think Mets fans thought Phillips' most troubling display of past poor decision making was trading Jason Bay and signing Mo Vaughn, Robby Alomar, Bobby Bonilla, Mike Bordick, Kenny Rogers, and Ricky Henderson to huge contracts on the downside of their careers. And to think sports fans in general though Phillips' most troubling display of past poor decision making was taking a starring role in the Sportscenter series of mock press conferences to preview the upcoming baseball season, one of the worst regular features on Sportscenter since the Who's Now series.

Steve Phillips........ I really don't know what to say........ aside from the fact that if you really were in such a bad slump at home with the wife, Buck Showalter might have been a more attractive slumpbuster.

October 19, 2009

Splashing Cold Water on 'Skins Fans

A popular sentiment amongst Redskins fans all day long on sports talk radio has been that somehow if we can force Dan Snyder to sell the team, things will get better. After all, people reason, he must be in reasonably dire financial straits given how he's been hemorrhaging money with his Six Flags investment, his Johnny Rockets investment, and his investment in Valkyrie and other sundry Tom Cruise flicks.

To those who think that suddenly buying one less Clinton Portis jersey or giving up their 2 season tickets might somehow push Dan Snyder over the brink and into financial destitute, I urge you to do one thing:

1) Go to Google Maps. Or, if you prefer, Google Earth
2) Type in 11732 River Road, Potomac Maryland 20854 (note, this is not his address but due to a quirk in Google, this is the address to type in to get a good view)
3) If in Google Maps, click "satellite view"
4) Look for the insanely huge house that is all the way down the access road right over top of the Potomac River.
5) Zoom in. No, that gigantic house that is right along River Road... that's not the "residence." Keep scrolling back, down the 1/2-mile long driveway, until you get to the house with the helicopter landing pad in back along the River.

Look... I found Waldo... dressed up and playing football coach!!

Now, we of course have no way of knowing how heavily mortgaged the residence is, but according to tax records, the house sits on a total of 13.53 acres over two tax parcels, and is appraised at a total of $14,921,950. In 2001, Dan bought the house for $8,640,000.00. He's made a tidy profit of just under $6.3 million on his house, alone.

Redskins fans, Daniel Snyder isn't going anywhere. Maybe he'll lie awake tonight, sleepless, and wander amongst the 100 rooms of his residence. Maybe his donation to B'Nai Israel Congregation will be a little bit less this year. But make no mistake - he's not going to be selling off the Redskins, no matter how much of a dent you think you can put in his pocket.

How the Mighty (Terps) Have Fallen

Less than a decade ago, Maryland was representing the ACC in the Orange Bowl against Spurrier's Gators. There were 3 straight 10-win seasons, and bowl destructions of Tennessee and West Virginia.

This year, the Maryland football program has reached a new low in the Friedgen era. We are 6 point underdogs at Duke. That's right, 3-3 Duke is favored over the Terps. The Blue Devils have victories over Army, NC State, and NC Central, not very impressive. Their losses are to VT, Kansas and FCS Richmond. But guess what, that's one more victory over an FBS opponent than MD has. And but for an OT victory over James Madison, MD's losses would be much worse. They're already more numerous.

Assuming (generously) a 3 pt home-field advantage in Durham, that means Vegas thinks the Blue Devils are 3 pts better on a neutral site. Sadly, you could make an argument for more, after MD's last ACC road trip was 35-10 at the half, and MD hasn't beaten anyone by more than 3 pts all year.

There's been a lot of talk on this blog about keeping the appropriate expectations for a school that is not really a football powerhouse. My expectations are that we should always be favored against teams that are 6-41 the previous 4 seasons and have lost to an FCS opponent this year. My expectations are that we should at least win 1 of 2 vs any Sun Belt team, and that we should consistently pound FCS opposition. My expectations are that we should not give up defensive TD's in close games on a consistent basis. My expectations are that when linemen graduate, there will be reasonably talented players waiting to take their places. My expectations are that the team will play hard on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes, every single game. My expectations are not being met. Cast the blame where you may.

The Most Wonderful Weekend of the Year

Halloween is quite possibly my second-favorite holiday all year. You can gorge yourself (relatively) guilt free into a diabetic coma, girls dress in provocative (read - slutty) costumes because it is socially acceptable, and it's just all around a good time. This year Halloween is on the weekend, which makes it even better. But for some of us, it's an even sweeter holiday weekend this season.
2009 Maryland Terrapins Schedule
Saturday, September 5 - @ California
Saturday, September 12 - James Madison
Saturday, September 19 - Middle Tennessee State
Saturday, September 26 - Rutgers
Saturday, October 3 - Clemson
Saturday, October 10 - @ Wake Forest
Saturday, October 17 - Virginia
Saturday, October 24 - @ Duke
Saturday, October 31 - Open Date
Saturday, November 7 - @ NC State
Saturday, November 14- Virginia Tech
Saturday, November 21 - @ Florida State
Saturday, November 28 - Boston College

Ohhhhh, excellent, Halloween spares me the bitterness of another horrifying Terrapins defeat. But wait, what's that you say... it gets better???

2009-2010 Washington Redskins Schedule
Sunday, September 13 - @ New York Giants
Sunday, September 20 - vs. St. Louis Rams
Sunday, September 27 - @ Detroit Lions
Sunday, October 4 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, October 11 - @ Carolina Panthers
Sunday, October 18 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Monday, October 26 - vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, November 1 - BYE WEEK
Sunday, November 8 - @ Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, November 15 - vs. Denver Broncos
Sunday, November 22 - @ Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, November 29 - @ Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, December 6 - vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, December 13 - @ Oakland Raiders
Monday, December 21 - vs. New York Giants
Sunday, December 27 - vs Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, January 3 - @ San Diego Chargers

Halloween weekend 2009, my friends. Those of us who are unfortunate enough to love both the Terps and the Redskins will be spared the misery of watching the teams that we love take yet another gut punch.

October 18, 2009

Brad Childress is a Headset Hottie

This offseason, Brad Childress earned widespread praise for converting the creepy moustache into a respectable beard.  Seemingly determined to remain the subject of ridicule, even at the helm of an undefeated team, Childress has insisted on wearing a special headset instead of the standard-issue Motorola model.

brad childressThis has the strange effect of making him look like one of the call center operators depicted on every IT website in the world and immortalized at headsethotties.com

headsethottieI guess the silver lining here is if the NFL coaching thing doesn’t work out for Childress, he can always get a job handling tech support calls.

Incredible Redskins and Panthers Futility Stats

All six teams the Redskins have played this year were winless coming into the game (NYG 0-0, STL 0-1, DET 0-2, TB 0-3, CAR 0-3, KC 0-5). That means four teams got their first win of the season against Washington.

Also, the two teams the Redskins beat (TB and STL) are still winless.

Carolina, like the Redskins, has two wins. Except Carolina has only beaten Washington and Tampa Bay. That means that both Carolina and Washington have only beaten teams who are either winless or who have only beaten winless teams. The depth of the NFL's basement this season is staggering.

As for the Ravens, I'm still not ready to talk about it. I am still trying to get over the fact that they would be 6-0 if it weren't for one player making a mistake late in the fourth quarter of each of the last three games (Clayton's drop against NE, Ray's 15-yard penalty against Cincy, Hauschka's missed FG today against Minny).