Archive for July, 2012
The Football Blog has a great article about some of the horribly mundane stories that pop up on ESPN from time to time. This one in particular is about ESPN’s attempt to fabricate interesting news about the Arizona Cardinals when there is quite literally nothing going on as they might be the most boring team in football. I highly recommend checking it out.
Ryan Tannehill worked exclusively with the second team today, but he took roughly 90% of the snaps equating to something in the area of 70-75 snaps, with the other 10% going to Pat Devlin. Overall Tannehill looked sharp. He did not throw any interceptions and on several occasions chose to throw balls away instead of attempting passes into traffic. Most of Tannehill’s issues emerged from the poor play of the second team’s offensive line.
Garrard and Moore shared first team snaps in which Garrard seemed sharper in most facets of the game in contrast to Moore.
Julius Pruitt had several nice catches, one of which went for a big gain.
Devone Bess looked crisp in an out of his roots and had several big plays. He appears to be the favorite target of David Garrard.
B.J. Cunningham had been quite so far in camp but today he had 5 or 6 receptions including a red zone drill TD. However, he also had one bad drop.
Legedu Nannee was the best looking receiver overall at camp on Monday making catches all over the field including a long TD catch in 1 on 1 drills.
Jimmy Wilson was the most fluid of the safetys in defensive back drills by far.
Richard Marshall continues to work with the first team defense where he made several nice plays in coverage.
Austin Spitler looked strong in linebacker drills.
Jonathon Martin was impressive with his agility in O-Line drills.
Jeff Fuller made 2 nice catches in the end of practice scrimmage.
Les Brown made 4 nice catches including a TD in 11 on 11 drills today.
Paul Solai made the defensive play of the day in the end of practice scrimmage when he broke through the offensive line and swallowed up Steve Slaton.
A recent news article noted that three former Penn State football players lead by Franco Harris have questioned the veracity of the Freeh Report after they were given the opportunity to review it. Their primary conclusion was that the report was flawed as the findings of the report do not line up with the evidence provided, in particular the evidence against Joe Paterno and they further held that Penn State and NCAA officials simply read the conclusions of the report without critically analyzing the evidence provided.
I have been waiting for something like this to emerge for some time now. Don’t get me wrong I am not presuming the innocence of Joe Paterno, but I think that it is equally as flawed to presume his guilt. The Freeh Report has been treated by many as a judicial finding tantamount to a court conviction, but the reality is that it is just a report and no matter how recognizable the name on the report is this reality is unchanged.
It is troublesome to me that the 21st centuries lynch mob, internet mass media, has convicted a group of people including former Penn State coach Joe Paterno without a trial or substantive evidence. Even more disheartening is that Paterno will never be able to provide us with his side of the story, and yet tomorrow we will continue to hear the long American monologue of freedom and fair trial while there are continually men and women convicted without it.
Let me begin by stating the obvious…Penn State put football ahead of the safety of young people. Child abuse is unimaginable and in my opinion, one of the purest forms of evil in the world. That said, I wanted to dive into the events of this morning…another chapter (not the last one) in the story of the Fall of the Nittany Lions. Permit me, with all due respect and acknowledgement to the countless victims, to put Penn State first.
Here is a football program that always seemed guaranteed a bowl appearance…that posted seven undefeated seasons (the first dating back to 1887)…a two-time National Champion. While my heart and interest belongs to the Notre Dame Irish, I am not ashamed to admit that I would tune in to Penn State games on ABC or ESPN and listen to Brent Musburger provide the play by play. Of course, there was that curious admiration for the weathered coach that many claimed not only changed the lives of his football players but also the existence of a whole community. But that has changed…Paterno is dead and being literally erased from the collective memory, high school seniors are looking elsewhere to further develop their football careers, and the once great football team that arguably could be placed on a Mount Rushmore of College Football Greats is now demoted to a lower spot where the modern day Indiana Hoosiers Football team resides.
Finally, the day came when punishments were placed against Penn State. There are those who followed the scandal that believed that no punishment was too excessive. Well, here are the sanctions (as determined by the NCAA): 1) $60 million fine 2) Vacating of wins from 1998-2011 (112 wins) 3) Four-year postseason ban 4) Players may transfer and play immediately at other schools and 5) Athletic department on probation for five years. I am torn on the decision. To punish future football players and students who were the ripe age of 4 in 1998 when the first accusation was made is a tough pill to swallow. I understand the theory of the sweeping, universal nature of punishment for Penn State but this just brings up the age old debate on fairness? Is it fair to punish everyone for the sins of a few? Sandusky and Penn State’s brass involved in the cover up should be the ones exclusively punished. Yes, Joe Paterno…who felt/thought he had done what he was required to do when he heard about the accusations through the grape vine…is among the guilty ones. In Joe Pa’s case, it is hard to believe that natural human curiosity to follow-up on the Sandusky decision by his superiors did not enter Joe Pa’s mind. Was he in denial, scared, or just a product of his time? Sometimes in life…not participating, is participating…a lesson Paterno took to his grave.
But let’s return to the sanctions. Beating a dead horse, the NCAA removed over a hundred wins from Joe Pa and Penn State. Again a question of fairness…in this particular case, why are the players getting punished? This is not a matter of doping or cheating on exams, it is a matter of sexual abuse from a coach and the failure of Penn State leaders to handle it. It is hard to see the connection to the football field and how the crimes affected the final scores. I understand that it is symbolic…to remove the wins since 1998…but is it effective? The only thing I like about this sanction is that the proceeds from Big Ten bowl revenues (13 million) from 1998-2011 will go to charitable organizations. Other than that, I can’t see the meaning behind making the blood, sweat, and tears of past players meaningless. Nevertheless, if you listen carefully, you can hear a YAHOO! coming from the Bowden home. The sanctions to ban postseason play and pay 60 million are significant when you look beyond the football field…student enrollment, vendors, local businesses, etc. Finally, recruiting will be all but impossible when the scholarships are reduced and players are given the penalty-free opportunity to transfer and play elsewhere. All of this to avoid the dreaded death penalty…
Allow me to close with a rant about the NCAA. With its origin story written by President Theodore Roosevelt after he saw through his son how dangerous sports could be, the NCAA has become quite the powerful monster. Its power grew more today. As judge, jury, and executioner, the NCAA has now moved to the next level…investigating and condemning sexual abuse related to an athletics program in addition to hunting down violations due to boosters, tutors, equipment managers, teachers, and coaches. The NCAA has developed from a group that years ago punished FSU for some football players acquiring extremely discounted TVs from a Tallahassee retail store to laying down a mighty axe down upon Penn State…as if sexual abuse or any other crimes that should be dealt in a normal court system will never occur again because of a few punishment resolutions. What is next? When a Duke Lacrosse player murdered a female Lacrosse player, should the NCAA have stepped in to investigate any signs of prior abuse? Ask any sports enthusiast a simple poll question: Should the NCAA be granted more power or less power? I am confident that at least 80% of the nation would ask for less power. I understand that someone had to stand up at a podium, hold a press conference, field questions, and ultimately, lay down the law…but why the NCAA? The NCAA could have guided Penn State (who accepted every punishment without an appeal) or another independent entity to deliver the punishment. In fact, it may have been a poignant act had Penn State had given itself the bad medicine…noting the very bitter taste. After all, the accusations and decisions had already been made. Instead, Penn State quickly removed a statue of its once fearless leader behind a Wizard of Oz-esque curtain of shame.
Kevin Nogle has really put together an excellent article in his The 2012 Miami Dolphins: The NFL’s Worst Team Ever Created that basically sums up all the frustration that Dolphins fans feel every time we listen to a national broadcast about the Dolphins. It is a fun read that no Dolphins fan should miss.
Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel has has written an excellent article regarding Miami Dolphin receivers Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, and Julius Pruitt that is worth checking out.
This is my pre-training camp 53 man roster. Without a doubt a number of players that are listed as “released” will become a part of the practice squad. In addition, there is a strong chance that players cut from other teams could be a part of the Dolphins 53 man roster or practice squad.
There were some very tough calls especially at running back and wide receiver, but I have done my best to put myself in the mind of the new coaching staff. Also of note, I am releasing two former dolphins draft picks, Koa Misi and Nolan Carroll. My primary reason for releasing Misi is that I struggled to envision a role for him in a 4-3 system as he is not a true linebacker nor is he a defensive linemen. I have long thought one of the biggest impacts of the Dolphins change to a 4-3 would be the release of 3-4 specialists like Misi. As for Carroll, I do not believe the new regime will be as interested in developing him as the previous regime was. Carroll’s best shot to make the roster is if he can become a special teams monster in the pre-season.
- Starter – David Garrard
- Backup – Ryan Tannehill; Pat Devlin
- Released – Matt Moore
- Starter – Reggie Bush
- Backup – Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller, Steve Slaton, Jerome Messam
- Released – Jonas Gray, Marcus Thigpen
- Starter – none
- Backup – none
- Released – Ryan Mahaffey, Jovorskie Lane
- Starter – Chad Johnson, Devone Bess
- Backup – Legadu Naanee, Brian Hartline, Roberto Wallace, Rishard Matthews
- Released – B.J. Cunningham, Jeff Fuller, Clyde Gates, Julius Pruitt, Marlon Moore
- Starter – Anthony Fasano
- Backup – Michel Egnew, Charles Clay, Les Brown
- Released – Jeron Mastrud, Will Yeastman
- Starter – Jake Long, Jonathon Martin
- Backup – Lyndon Murtha, Nate Garner
- Released – Will Barker, Andew McDonald, Dustin Waldron
- Starter – Richie Incognito, Artis Hicks
- Backup – John Jerry
- Released – Derek Dennis, Josh Samuda, Rey Feinga
- Starter – Mike Pouncey
- Backup – Ryan Cook
- Released – none
- Starter – Jared Odrick, Cam Wake
- Backup – Olivier Vernon, Jamal Westerman
- Released – Jarell Root, Derrick Shelby, Jacquies Smith, Ryan Baker
- Starter – Paul Solai, Randy Starks
- Backup – Tony McDaniel, Kheeston Randall
- Released – Chas Alecxih, Isaako Aaitui
- Starter – Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Gary Guyton
- Backup – Jason Trusnik, Josh Kaddu, Austin Spitler
- Released – Koa Misi, Jonathan Freeny, Cameron Collins, Shelly Lyons
- Starter – Vontae Davis, Sean Smith
- Backup – Richard Marshall, Vincent Agnew, Jonathan Wade
- Released – Nolan Carroll, Kevyn Scott, Marcus Brown, Trenton Hughes
- Starter – Reshad Jones, Jimmy Williams
- Backup – Chris Clemons, Tyrone Culver
- Released – Tyrell Johnson, Quinten Lawrence, Anderson Russell, Kelcie McCray
Special Teams: Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields, John Denney
Today we close out the NFC South with my pick for the division winner: the Atlanta Falcons. All three divisional opponents have had noisy off-seasons, whether it was the Bucs, who hauled in some top shelf free agents, the Saints, who are still embroiled in Bountygate, or the Panthers, who are trying to break the record for unwatchable rookie quarterback footwear commercials. Next to this din, the quiet Falcons off-season has reached a pitch so low that only humpback whales can hear it. They let a couple of starters walk away, including MLB Curtis Lofton who split for the Saints, but seemed content to play it cool and move forward with what they have. They didn’t really have a choice, of course.
Rich McKay mortgaged the family farm, his daddy’s trophies and a fool’s ransom in draft picks for Julio Jones, so the front office has not had the ammunition to either sign or draft anyone of significant value or promise. I’ve always thought that ESPN and other sports outlets have taken it pretty easy on McKay considering the staggering stupidity of this move. It underscores what appears to be the Falcons’ method to winning the division – outcompete the Saints on offense. It’s ludicrous. Even with Jones having a much better year than I anticipated, there is no way that any team in the league outside of the Green Bay Packers can go head to head with the Saints in the passing game. The Falcons seem to want to try that, even though Matt Ryan is starting to look like Elvis Grbac and Michael Turner is used up. That being said, I think coach Mike Smith will be able to at least split with the Saints this year so that he can get obliterated in the first round of the playoffs again.
The Falcons will continue to get decimated in the post season as long as (much like the Saints), the front office keeps from investing in defense. The secondary is adequate with Brent Grimes getting re-signed next to Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson, but the linebacking corps is suspect and Abraham, Biermann and Edwards are not an adequate pass rush. I have no idea what the philosophy is for this team’s defense. Mike Smith quickly generated some excitement in Atlanta, but has had trouble getting his team to improve in the post season. I’m picking them to win because I’m equating their quietness with confidence. I think they’ll be marginally better than the Saints and significantly better than the Panthers and the Bucs. It’s a competitive, open division, however, and no result will really surprise.
For those following at home, I have the Panthers finishing last in the NFC South and the Bucs doing only slightly better. Today, we examine the Saints, who I predict will finish second in the division.
If the Bucs had a great off-season, and the Panthers had a Cam Newton off-season, then the Saints had the worst off-season in NFL history. I’m not going to spend any more time than the media already has shining a spotlight on the (self-inflicted) wounds of the NFL’s golden boys, but I will take a brief moment to ask why the hell the players, coaches, and Saints organization won’t just accept their spanking and shut up? In what alternate universe does Jonathan Vilma believe Roger Goodell will react positively to this prolonged whining? Doesn’t he know Roger can have him erased, or worse, sent to the CFL?
On with the show. Most pundits, including Earthworm Jim – I mean, John Clayton – believe the loss of Sean Payton and the general karmic payback of the universe will either have no effect on the team or be catastrophic. I think the truth, as with most things, lies between these extremes. In their first game against the Saints last season, the Bucs appeared to be headed for a loss, until Sean Payton went out of the game when Jimmy Graham was tackled into his knee. Suddenly, the Saints weren’t the Saints. The Bucs smelled the mixture of fear, uncertainty, and blood which is the natural aphrodisiac of all football games, and pulled off the win. You can’t tell me that the loss of Payton is insignificant. The Saints will be much better prepared this time around, to be sure, but do not discount his loss. Payton is a talented play caller and halftime adjuster. I think his absence alone will result in three or four losses – probably against better opponents who demand those types of in-game adaptations. The Saints could make the playoffs – Drew Brees finally sorted out his contract and you could make the case that only Brady and he are irreplaceable to their teams – but there is no way they win a playoff game without Payton at the helm.
The offense is never a question with the Saints. There are still plenty of places to throw the ball even without Meachem on the field. The defense is a different matter. I’m not convinced of the talent on the Saints defense. Who’s their passrusher? Can they expect to compete without a playmaker in the secondary? I think Spagnuolo is a great hire (and, frankly, shouldn’t have lost his job in St. Louis in the first place) who should do an adequate job, but you cannot make bricks without clay. The lack of investment on this side of the ball simply has to catch up to them sometime, and all the drama and instability could also weaken this unit. Or bring them together. Or whatever. Who the hell knows?