Monday, November 16, 2009

Randomness While Channeling My Inner Barry Switzer

And apparently, this guy above also did the same thing. Bill Belichick did everything to lose that game Sunday night in that final Patriots drive. New England enters this drive with two timeouts and blows one before the first play for no reason. After setting up 3rd and 2, Belichick calls a pass play, instead of a run to set up the two minute warning, and that pass is nearly run back for a pick six. As the Pats offense leaves the field, Belichick arrogance comes into play and calls for another pass play on 4th and 2 at their OWN 28. The confusion of that play made the Pats burn their last timeout. That timeout was important as the Pats missed converting on the 4th down play on a close play that either you could use the timeout to challenge or save for the Colts possession and give Tom Brady more than 10 seconds to drive down the field.

Monday, I heard half the sports world rightly kill Belichick for his handling of the 4th down play and the other half defend him because "he's unconventional" and obviously anything he does is always the right call. The fact is, Belichick should have punted, and everyone expected it, which is why the Pats threw on third down (which you can't do) and threw basically the same route on fourth down. You can't take a chance that Peyton Manning gets 30 yards to win a game, but make him go 60-70 yards against you're defense that has made him uncomfortable all night, including a couple of interceptions (one in the fourth quarter).

Random note: I know about the video of Belichick's bodyguard knocking over a cameraman as they left the field. The thing that cracks me up is after Belichick shakes Jim Caldwell's hand, Jim Sorgi randomly approaches Bill just as the cameraman was taken down. Random note two: Since I didn't post this after this article, I must give Ed Werder credit for the "channel his inner Switzer" line. We both thought it, he put it on record first, plus he actually spoke with Barry Switzer about it, so he deservedly gets credit.

Good luck for the NY Jets, who have to face the Patriots who after their last loss beat the Titans 59-0. Add that the Pats lost the way they did, that the Jets beat them in September and how Belichick just plain hate the team, I wouldn't be surprised if 59-0 is the halftime score.

Jets have their own problems after another tough loss to the Jaguars Sunday. The key play was Maurice Jones-Drew stopping at the one yard line, a la Brian Westbrook, in order to run the clock down for a winning field goal. Gregg Easterbrook in his comprehensive TMQ column made an interesting point on the play, not by calling MJD dumb for trying to run the clock, but stating that Jack Del Rio would be to blame if the Jags somehow missed the FG because all they did was take knees to set the kick up (also you see him defend Belichick's fourth down decision, which I'm sure he was fight 100 bolts of lightning in doing so).

This is about the Jets, who have self-destructed before our very eyes, at least to those who live in New York. They lost Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington, Kerry Rhodes is the anti-Ed Reed, Mark Sanchez is playing like a rookie and Rex Ryan is coaching without a clue. This is a team that has talked like they won the last ten Super Bowls, where the coach has no clue about clock management and how to use his timeouts, where a rookie QB reads a prepared statement and thinks he can get away with pissing off the New York media. Now they're 4-5, certain to be 4-6 and headed to a 6-10, 7-9 season. The Rex Ryan Era Everybody!!!

Where last Sunday was an awful day for the Jets, it was golden for the Giants. Why? They didn't play. Also, the Cowboys, Eagles and Falcons lost, with all three and the Broncos each losing key players to injury. In a related story, the Giants play all three teams in the next four weeks. If Chris Simms is the starter on Thanksgiving, no chance do the Giants lose, hell the Lions or the Rams have as good a chance of winning. Thus, the Giants could avoid Brian Westbrook (concussion), Kyle Orton (ankle) and Michael Turner (ankle), plus the Cowboys had multiple injuries.

The Bengals are for real and no one can ignore them anymore. They swept both AFC Championship teams from a year ago, plus they have Oakland, Kansas City, Cleveland and Detroit which will get them into the playoffs. The defense is very good who have absorbed the loss of Antwan Odom without losing the ferocity of their pass rush and they have the best pair of corners for any team (with Green Bay the one possible exception) in Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall.

I remember back in the mid-90s that Bud Adams was one of the worst owners in sports with how he handled coaches and obviously how the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee. Then, he has seemed like a good guy during the Jeff Fisher era, but giving him the Cowher treatment and not firing him. After last Sunday, I'm glad that Adams can be hated once again after his two bird salute to a Bills section, not to mention Commissioner Roger Goodell.

I think everyone's aware that the Yankees have won more games that the Nets, Knicks, Giants AND Jets combined in November. But does anyone know that the Seton Hall Pirates hold that same claim and they started playing games last Friday. Just sayin'. (This is no longer true because the Knicks remarkably won in Indiana, holding Danny Granger to three second half points. So now it's a tie.)

As for the Pirates, I believe they will make the tournament, despite Keon Lawrence getting suspended for DUI. Herb Pope will make the difference and finally give the team the size they've been lacking. I rarely pick college in November because a) too many new players so I have no clue how they mesh and b) I know teams that are thought of as good fall on their faces way too often.

After blowing the draft pick this year and selecting Jordan Hill over Brandon Jennings and a still questionable Danilo Gallinari pick last year, should Knicks fans be concerned that Donnie Walsh is the GM? Also, does this make it a good thing the Knicks don't have a draft pick in 2010, thus Walsh can't screw up another one?

Huge weekend boxing where Manny Pacquiao puts himself in the elite class of fighters after his dominant win over Miguel Cotto. There were some shades of the Ali "Rope-A-Dope" in the early rounds which Cotto was forcing the action, before one switch at the ropes and Pac Man was brutal the rest of the fight, forcing Cotto's wife and son fleeing the arena (just like Mick Foley's wife and kids). Now, the entire world is salivating over a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, hopefully to be seen on the unofficial fight weekend of the year, Kentucky Derby day (doubling as the weekend of my 24th birthday).

Pacquiao supporters can claim that he dominated Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton better than Floyd and that Miguel Cotto was the best fighter either guy faced. While Mayweather supporters can claim the win of Juan Manuel Marquez is better than Pacquiao's struggles with the guy, the fact is, Marquez was a better fighter at a lower weight. One thing that's true about Pacquiao, he hasn't lost his speed as he moves up weight class and winning titles in seven divisions is as good a feat as ever done in boxing, while Mayweather must continue to stay unbeaten because that's his claim to fame, aside from a lot of bravado and boring defensive fights (he's clearly the San Antonio Spurs of boxing for the simple fact that I think he can throw when he wants to which he did against Hatton, just as the Spurs could score with the Suns when necessary). Pacquiao's place in boxing history will be looked on kind regardless of a win/loss against Floyd, but Mayweather can establish himself in a greater light. That's why Floyd needs this fight, though not more than the sport of boxing itself.

Finally, the World Cup qualifying ended Wednesday as the last six teams made the 32-team field which will be played in South Africa next year. Kudos must go to our upset winners in Greece (who I always root for, except against the U.S., in deference to some of my cousins) and Slovenia, who knocked off Ukraine (leading to this scene being rehashed) and Russia respectively (think of Russia's luck, they probably were among the top 5 teams in qualifying, but they had to be grouped with Germany and couldn't beat them. They win if grouped with France or Italy). Algeria won a special playoff over Egypt, Uruguay won their playoff with Costa Rica while Christiano Ronaldo can breathe easy because his Portugal squad made the field without him.

The final one was between Ireland and France. The French won the first leg 1-0 in Ireland and the Irish scored first in the second game leading to extra time. For anyone who doesn't know, because both teams scored one goal and on the road, they needed the extra time; if France would score, it would force Ireland to score or the French move on. In the 103rd minute, the play that happened will instantly be compared to Diego Maradona, the Montreal Screwjob, the Bennett Salvatore Game, Jeffery Maier, and No Goal among the list of worst officiating moments in sports history. Thierry Henry clearly touches the ball with a handball, which gets uncalled and the France win on the ensuing goal. Personally, I'm done talking about it, the Irish were robbed and France will undeservedly go to South Africa, it's that simple.

Here's my pick for tonight's NFL Network game. Home team in CAPS
CAROLINA (-3) over Miami- Without Ronnie Brown, the Wildcat isn't as effective and the Dolphins will lose tonight. Please don't make me curse picking you Jake Delhomme.

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