Weekend Update: #SadFansAreSad

#1 with a Bullet…

 

Oh the humanity…Bert, you got waxed again – remember when you opened your mouth at a Texas football camp and said; if you didnt have a fullback you would get your ass kicked?  Well Pepperidge Farms remembers and apparently so did Kingsbury.  All the offseason hype, all the faux-swagger and next week is Texas A&M – you’ve got Hawg-Town losing their minds.  Bert, you know it’s bad when the people of Hawg-nation are calling for Greg Schiano, Lame Kitten, or just outright cheating.  It’s gotta sting the nostrils a bit.  Sure, fans will get over ranking 118th in 3rd-down conversion-defense, or ranking 84th in penalty yards and even 119th in RedZone efficiency – but having Kliff Kingsbury put you in your place?  These are Dark Days Bert, dark days…


Dark Days ahead for Auburn too.  This is who Auburn is.  They just don’t go quietly into the night, they fall off the cliff.  It’s in their DNA.  Their history proves it, and when a defensive back spouts off about how easy it will be to stop Leonard Fournette…well we all saw what happened.  Fournette had Auburn quitting before halftime, especially Mr. Ford – the mouthee.   But, to me, the issue is Jeremy Johnson.  He had a lot of hype coming in and the expectation was that he would do and be everything we’ve come to expect from the field-general of Auburn’s offense.  He has the talent, just not the heart or more importantly the head to get it done, because it is not translating to the field in real time.  Seriously though, it’s Auburn and it was a great weekend for those who dislike the entire state of Alabama.


More sad fans were found in SoCal.  Beyond Sark’s pre-game holla-ba-looza earlier in the year, the only thing people really had to say about him was – He’s a nice guy.  I’m sure he is a nice guy and that is honorable, but when it is attached to a football coach that is getting treatment for a drinking problem, he says he doesn’t have and then Stanford happens, you get flashbacks.  The kind of flashbacks that take you back to Seattle where Sark was 34-29 and the thought was, “it was hard to breakthrough in Washington, and wait and see what he can do with national-elite talent.”  Well we did. Talent is important, but it’s what you do with it, and so far and far too often, Sarkisian is outmatched by the other guy on the other side-line.  It’s going to get harder for “the Fans of Troy” to believe this is going to work as envisioned, because, as of right now –  it’s not the symbol of victory that fans are giving, it’s the number of losses every year.


But what about Ole Miss and Alabama? The Rebels caused five turnovers Saturday and also benefited from a once-in-a-lifetime—see Auburn in bamasad2013—miracle touchdown in a six-point win in Tuscaloosa.  Alabama is going too have to, again, win out.  But is it the same as last year? Last year, Alabama had a defined starting quarterback. Saturday, Nick Saban went with sophomore Cooper Bateman (who got blown up) before he was replaced by Jake Coker – who had started Alabama’s first two games. Coker almost led Alabama to it’s best come-from-behind victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium since the one Cam Newton led in 2010.  This is a fluke they say, the dynasty is still intact, the emperor’s new clothes are still made from the finest invisible silks…To quote our friend Lee Corso – NOT SO FAST…Alabama is 4-5 against top 15 teams since 2013.  That’s a trend, not a fluke, and what I’m saying is – gone are the days that Alabama beats teams with comparable talent more often than not.  Back in the day, Alabama fans would be upset if you beat someone by 10pts instead of 20 and after they’d come back down to earth, they’d be on to the next week.  Now the freakouts seem longer and that might cause Saban to see the writing on the wall and pack up.

For week 3 we were 72% SU and 64% ATS – that still crushes, but it is not what we are used to around here – our upsets did pretty well, but the ones we thought would be E-Z, hmmm not so much as we’d like.  If you haven’t seen it, take a look at how Memphis tied the game at 41 in the 4th qtr against Bowling Green – yeah a full-on double-reverse-flea flicker!!!

Other thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Notre Dame has lost a starting defensive tackle, a starting tailback, a starting tight end and a starting quarterback to season-ending injuries. Saturday, it may have lost a starting safety to a chest-bump-celebration
  • TCU lost their cornerback to a knee injury against SMU and also had 5 other defensive players sit out with injuries
  • Doing his best Johnny Manziel impression – OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, accounted for a school-record 572 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in the Sooners’ 52-38 win over Tulsa
  • Al Golden escaped with a much needed victory over Nebraska, but it still does not seem to haved cooled off his seat any.  During the game you could see a plane pulling a banner that read: C’MON #FIREGOLDEN. THESE BANNERS ARE EXPENSIVE – nevermind the Hurricanes were up 17 by halftime.  Maybe he felt vindicated after watching Miami choke away a 23pt lead, yet still won 36-33 in OT
  • For Nebraska, it could have been one of the great comebacks in their history – then Tommy Armstrong threw an interception on the 1st play of OT, and then a player gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he shoved the Miami guy who intercepted it – Miami, short field goal – ball game.  It’s a heart-breaking way to lose a game, and yet it has happened to Nebraska twice in three weeks.

It’s all about the Benjamin

Some headlines will highlight Johnny Manziel‘s role in the Browns’ 28-14 win over the Titans. But the star of the show was Travis Benjamin, who caught touchdown passes of 60 and 50 yards from Manziel and returned a punt 78 yards for a TD. The only other active players to have scored three TDs of 50 yards or longer in one game were Chris Johnson (2009) and Tavon Austin (2013). Benjamin was the first Browns player ever to do so – ever.

Benjamin also caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from Manziel in the Browns’ season opener. The only other player in NFL history with four touchdowns of 50 yards or longer in his team’s first two games of a season was Jim Brown for Cleveland in 1963 – 1963!

Manziel may have completed just 8-of-15 passes, but he was able to limit the turnovers and make plays when the Browns needed him the most.  In reality, there is absolutely no reason for Mike Pettine to go back to a lower-ceiling quarterback in Josh McCown.  As a result of Manziel replacing McCown, Cleveland extended its streak to 14 consecutive seasons in which at least two different players started a game at QB. That tied the longest such streak in the NFL since 1950, set by New England from 1980 to 1993. The Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe with the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, and Bledsoe ended New England’s streak in 1994.


Are the Cardinals early Favorites?

Fresh off a solid win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, Bruce Arians and the Cardinals laid the smack down against an inferior Bears team in Chicago. While the game was relatively close about halfway through, anyone watching it knew full well that Arizona was going to end up pulling away.

For Carson Palmer, it was a continuation of what has been a stellar run for a USC quarterback. The veteran has posted a 15-2 record with 34 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. His four touchdowns on Sunday – including three to Larry Fitzgerald – represents the first time Palmer has matched that total since he was with the Oakland Raiders back in November of 2012.  That was the first regular-season game of Fitzgerald’s NFL career in which he scored more than two touchdowns; he came into the game with 89 TDs.

Only one player in league history with that many touchdowns never scored three in a game: Charley Taylor (90 TDs) – (Note that Fitzgerald caught three touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game following the 2008 season, but never before in a regular-season game.)


New Rams, same as the old Rams

All the good feelings the St. Louis Rams may have felt following their Week 1 win over the Seattle Seahawks came crashing down in D.C. on Sunday. Never really in control of the game against Washington, St. Louis dropped an ugly game by the score of 24-10. At this point, we have come to expect Fisher-led squads to lay eggs following good performances.

It happened in all three of the Rams big wins last year — against Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. In fact, the Rams lost the following week after beating those favored teams. This is one of the primary reasons I avoided to pick St. Louis on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins completed 23 of 27 passes (85%) and Matt Jones gained 123 yards on 19 carries in the Redskins’ 24-10 win over the Rams. Jones and Alfred Morris, who gained 121 yards on Week 1, are the first Redskins teammates to rush for at least 100 yards in the team’s first and second game of a season (one in each game, that is). The only other running backs to do that in this century were LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner for San Diego in 2006.

For his part, Cousins posted the fourth-highest completion percentage in team history (minimum: 20 passes). The three higher marks were by Mark Brunell, 89 percent against Houston in 2006; Patrick Ramsey (Tulane), 86 percent against the Giants in 2004; and Sammy Baugh, 86 percent against the Steelers in 1945.


New England is putting the league on notice

Tom Brady passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots’ 40-32 win at Buffalo. Brady’s totals after two games-754 yards and 7 TDs without an INT-are rare even for a quarterback of his elite status. This is the second time he has passed for at least 700 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two games of season, the first being 2011. Only four other players did that even once: Jim Kelly (1991), Drew Bledsoe for the Patriots (1994), Peyton Manning (2013), and Aaron Rodgers (2013). Of those players, only Manning and Brady did so without throwing an interception.

Incidentally, Brady set a record for passing yards in one game against the Bills, breaking a mark that was set the same month that Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record. On October 29, 1961, George Blanda of the Houston Oilers passed for 464 yards at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, and that mark remained the highest against the Bills until Sunday.

At some point, the Patriots will have to find a run/pass balance on offense – right?. They won’t be able to dominate like this through the air on a consistent basis – can they? The interesting dynamic here is that New England did average nearly four yards per rush. It’s not like the running game was completely ineffective.  Instead, Bill Belichick and Co. decided to make a statement, again, that the big boys of the East don’t reside in Western New York and play under Rex Ryan.  It could be a long year for anyone who gets in their way.


The Eagles are mess

About halfway through three quarters on Sunday against Dallas, the Eagles had racked up more penalty yards than total yards. Heck, the Cowboys domination could be summed up by the fact that they had run more plays (44) – at about the nine-minute mark in the third quarter – than the Eagles had total yards (34). It was that ugly.

The Cowboys defeated the Eagles, 20-10, in a game in which the story was Tony Romo‘s broken collarbone.  But storyline 1-A was the continued ineffectiveness of DeMarco Murray, who netted two yards on 13 carries one week after gaining nine yards on eight carries in Philadelphia’s season opener.  Over the last 30 seasons, there are only four games in which a defending rushing champion gained less than 10 yards on at least five carries. Christian Okoye did it in 1990, Chris Johnson in 2010, and Murray in each of his first two games with the Eagles.

Murray’s net of 2 yards was the third lowest in NFL history by a defending rushing champion in a game of at least 10 carries. Steve Van Buren of the Eagles was held to negative-2 yards on 10 carries by the Browns in 1950; and Clem Daniels, the 1963 AFL rushing leader, carried 14 times for negative-1 yard against the Boston Patriots in the Raiders’ opening game of the 1964 season.  But Murray’s performance on Sunday was extraordinary for any player, not just for a rushing champion. Over the last 37 seasons, only one other player finished a game with at least as many carries and as few rushing yards as Murray. Jonathan Wells of the Texans carried 13 times for 1 yard on Dec. 29, 2002 against the Titans.

It’s this type of offensive performance that will have many questioning Chip Kelly’s scheme moving forward. More than that, it will have skeptics on full alert when it comes to criticizing the team’s off-season moves. And now at 0-2 on the season, Philadelphia finds itself in a must-win situation against the New York Jets next week.


6 straight home losses?!

At 0-2 on the season (2nd straight year), Drew Brees and Co. are in a terrible position. Only 10 percent of teams that have started 0-2 since the 2007 season have earned a playoff spot. And while playing in the NFC South helps New Orleans early in the year, they just lost a home game against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that won just two games last season.  Costing many people their survivor pool!!!

Jameis Winston led the Buccaneers to a 26-19 win at New Orleans. Winston became the first quarterback chosen first in the NFL Draft to get a September road win in his rookie season since John Elway did so in 1983.  Of course, Elway’s two road wins in September 1983 have a big fat asterisk, since Steve DeBerg was the QB who rallied the Broncos to both of those victories.

Since that time, #1 picks had lost 16 straight September starts in their rookie season, and it’s an impressive list of QBs: two losses each by Troy Aikman, Jeff George, Drew Bledsoe, Peyton Manning, Tim Couch, and David Carr, followed by single losses by Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, and Andrew Luck.

There isn’t much left up for interpretation here. New Orleans appears to be terrible.

Looking well past his prime, Brees was outplayed by Jameis.  Drew completed 24-of-38 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This came on the heels of Tampa Bay’s defense yielding FOUR touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota last week.

If the Saints can’t win a home game against a bottom-feeder, it pretty much tells us what we need to know about this team. Unfortunately for Brees, the twilight of his career is likely going to be spent with fans watching him thru paper-bags.

 

C’mon Man and other ridiculousness for Monday

So Sam Bradford thinks that Terrell Suggs was intentionally tying to hurt him.  Come again Sam?  Your beef should be with your coach.  The Chipster, should be more aware that his QB has had two ACL surgeries prior and that running a read option opens you up for these kinds of hits.

Suggs received a 15-yard penalty because QB’s are delicate ballerinas nowadays.  However, the Dean, Mr. Blandino, NFL VP of officiating, ruled that the hit was clean – stating that when Bradford executed a read-option play, that he was clearly a runner – making the case that roughing-the-passer does not apply.

So will some say that Suggs was intentionally trying to hurt Sam Bradford?  Surely, some will.  But, this is what you get when grown-men who are built like trucks and run as fast as Ferrari’s play a man’s game.  Run the read-option at your own risk, and maybe not run it with a QB that has already had two blow-outs, Chip!


Continuing with that thread – what are they doing in Washington?  Thursday night RGIII was repeatedly taking shots.  Is this the visual definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?

Clearly, Robert has trouble seeing the field and getting rid of the ball on time.  But being sacked three times and getting hit twice on 8 dropbacks says more about Washington’s pass protection than RG’s lack of progression, right?  So, if he is your franchise QB, and you know these things about your O-line, why are you sending him out there to get pummeled by a pass-rush happy D-line?  What are you trying to do in the pre-season?  Is it because he believes he is the best QB in the league?  Or, it might be just what to expect from RGIII, because the play he got hurt on is testimony to why he will never be the best QB in this league.

Robert, stepped away from a clean pocket and missed two wide open receivers on short routes – he then stepped into pressure – leading to the injury.  Those two wide open receivers were the check down options on third and long – instead of taking the short gain and likely punting – Robert wanted to be a hero and make a something happen – because that is what he did in college.  So maybe the point is they are just trying to make it easier to name Kirk Cousins the starter and move on from a QB that is just as much fragile physically as he is mentally – that they gave up a lot to draft.  It also proves that Dan Snyder is clueless, for an organization hoping that RGIII will bounce back from two disastrous seasons by continuing to play him in the meaningless pre-season – it is another chapter in this ridiculous narrative.


Yeah it is still the pre-season – but it is also a contrast to how Cleveland is choosing to do things with their young running QB.  It is also a small statement for those that are holding out hope that Johnny Football will be a NFL QB.  Against the Bills, Manziel showed competence, going 10-18 for 118yds and a TD (95yd drive) – easily making it the best performance of his professional career.

Are their issues he still needs to work on – clearly.  Too often he looks to run and run with his head down, not looking down field – instead of side-stepping the pressure first.  Also, he still needs to improve his progressions after the initial read.

Now we have word that Manziel is dealing with arm soreness and that could impact the reps he needs to improve – it also signals he may not be strong enough to handle the load of being a QB full-time for a full season.  At least he has some good tape to point to, which is more than we could say before hand.


click to watch

Chris Berman used to say, all Cris Carter did was catch touchdowns – now he’s catching some heat – as should the NFL.  I am still stunned that this was what Cris Carter wanted to say to Rookies last year – while wearing his HOF JACKET!  I am more stunned that the NFL was promoting this on their site and more so, that it took a story about Chris Borland retiring, for anyone to notice!  Since the story, the NFL has removed it – The NFL and ESPN have done their spin-control, slut-shaming Cris and Carter has also apologized – C’mon Man!

Jason Day, #NFLPreseason and #TebowTime, Oh MY!

Jason Day did something, no one in Golf has ever done – finish -20 at a Major.  With a final round score of 67, Jason Day won the PGA Championship that was contested from start to finish.  So what did we learn?

We learned that Jason Day might have learned how to finish.  Before yesterday’s win, Day had been known as a really talented golfer that had yet to win.  He had come close on several occasions, with 9 top-10 finishes and three-runner ups, but struggled to get over the hump.  At the PGA, Day made the field chase him and still walked onto the 18th green with a three-stroke lead and the victory.cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png

We also learned that Jordan Speith is having one helluva season.  Speith came within one shot of making it into the playoffs at the British Open last month and three strokes from catching Day at the PGA Championship.  Speith’s run ranks up there with Ben Hogan in ’53 and Tiger Woods in ’00, when both golfers won 3 Majors.  Jordan is only 22, so the future looks bright.

Finally, we learned that Tiger Woods may never “be back”.  Tiger missed the cut for the third time in a row and never really got into sync.  Even he acknowledged he is struggling making putts.  But from what used to carry the tour in Tiger Woods, it is comforting to know that there is till plenty of star-power and drama these days that gives Golf a shot to withstand the loss of Tiger.


#TebowTime

Eagles backup QB Tim Tebow (11) dives into the end

After a two-year absence Tim Tebow returned to a football field to a standing-ovation from Eagles fans.  In fact, twice Tim had to quiet the crowd.  In what is likely Tebow’s final shot at being a NFL quarterback – Tim finished his day going 6-for-12, for 69yds, no TD’s or INT’s, but did run 4 times for 15yds and touchdown.

He seems to have improved since the last time we saw him – but still made some of the same mistakes that can not happen at the position – he held onto the ball to long and struggled reading coverages.  Some of that could be the O-Line at Philly, but all Tim has to do is beat Matt Barkley for the third string.  Barkley, by comparison was 12-for-20 for 192yds, 0 TD’s and 1 interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

So maybe the issue for Tim is not necessarily that he wins the third-string job for the Eagles – it’s that he does enough improvement that he finds a different team he could join.  Either way #TebowTime is back and it’s fantastic, right Skip Bayless?!

2015-08-16-jameis-winston

Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TODAY Sports

Here are some other #NFLPreseason tidbits from Tom Pelissero of USA Today:

Jameis Winston said he wasn’t nervous before his first NFL preseason game.

“No, not nervous. Anxious,” the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2015 said after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 26-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night. “Of course, I have butterflies, but it is just because I want to do the right thing.”

Winston did that in spurts, recording his first completion on a 40-yard strike to Vincent Jackson and later leading the Bucs’ no-huddle offense to a touchdown against the Vikings’ reserves.

But the former Heisman Trophy winner also did his fair share of, in Bucs coach Lovie Smith’s words, “typical things that a rookie will do” on his way to a 9-for-19 passing performance (131 yards) with an interception, two mishandled snaps and several misfires.

At least now the first live game action — albeit with no game planning, no real atmosphere and no starters on the other side of the ball after a few series — is now behind them.

“Oh, it’s going to be pivotal I think for all of us,” Mariota said after the Titans’ 31-24 loss against the Atlanta Falcons. “I think that we can learn from our mistakes and get better from them.”

Injuries adding up

St. Louis Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines (foot), Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt (Achilles) and Washington tight ends Niles Paul (ankle) and Logan Paulsen (turf toe) are out for the season. Chicago Bears receiver Kevin White might be, too, after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his shin that landed him on reserve/physically unable to perform. Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (fracture in hand) is out for the rest of the preseason. The list goes on, yet still almost a month before the real games begin.

Johnny Progress

The best sign for Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel: He seemed to be playing under control, using his feet to extend plays instead of just trying to run around. There was some vintage Johnny Football as he high-stepped away from oncoming rushers and scrambled for a 12-yard TD in the Browns’ loss to the Washington. Journeyman Josh McCown is entrenched as the starter for the time being, and that’s probably not a bad thing. Baby steps.

cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.pngNothing final

The two primary quarterback competitions will last at least one more week. Brian Hoyer got the starter treatment for the Houston Texans: one series, a 58-yard touchdown pass and then a seat on the bench while Ryan Mallett went to work (and did it well). But coach Bill O’Brien said Mallett will start next week. Ditto in Buffalo, where coach Rex Ryan said Tyrod Taylor will get his shot next week after Matt Cassel started the exhibition opener. Former first-round pick EJ Manuel threw a 51-yard touchdown in that game and hasn’t been ruled out, either (at least not publicly).

Be like Barry?

New York Jets coach Todd Bowles is getting ahead of himself with the comparison to Barry Sanders’ quickness. But it’s easy to understand the sentiment after Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah carved up Bowles’ defense on a 45-yard run. Abdullah was a workhorse at Nebraska and is putting himself in position for a big role while starter Joique Bell keeps working his way back from knee and Achilles surgeries. Added explosion on offense might be Detroit’s best hope for making up for the loss of all-pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Down under

One of the NFL’s fascinating longshot stories got more interesting when former Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne broke off a 53-yard run for the San Francisco 49ers. He has an unusual, upright running style and a lot to learn. But he figures to keep getting a long look on offense and in the return game.


Players Who Have Cleared Revocable Waivers

via  Major League Baseball Trade Rumors

MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season’s final two months. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.

First, several notes are in order. For one, many players have and will clear waivers without public reports revealing that status. (Some of them have already been traded, such as Mike Napoli.) Remember, also, that players must be acquired by August 31 to be eligible for their new team’s postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. And bear in mind that a player’s no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers.

Last Updated: 8/14/2015

  • Jose Reyes, Rockies — The 32-year-old Reyes has struggled offensively since being dealt to the Rockies and has seen his defensive work take a hit over the past couple of seasons as well. He was still a very serviceable bat while playing with Toronto, though, and a departure from the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre could benefit his legs and back, perhaps even restoring some of his speed and range. Some have speculated on a potential move to second base for the former All-Star, who is owed about $54.37MM through the end of the 2017 season (as of Aug. 14).
  • Chase UtleyPhillies — Utley, 36, has produced at well below his typical rate for much of the year and just ended an extended DL stint. But he’s a highly-respected veteran, and the ankle issue could explain his struggles. Indeed, Utley has looked more like himself since returning to action. He’s owed about $4.5MM the rest of the way (as of Aug. 11), but the absence means that he won’t be a threat to trigger a vesting option for next year. For teams looking to bolster their options at second base down the stretch, Utley will surely hold appeal.
  • James Shields, Padres — The veteran hurler is in the first season of a four-year pact, making him an atypical trade candidate, but San Diego’s struggles and desire to clear payroll could see him dangled. There’s only about $2MM left to pay in 2015 (as of Aug. 11), but the deal is backloaded: it comes with $65MM in future guarantees (including the buyout on a $16MM option for 2019). The contract does have an opt-out after next season. Shields is already 33, and hasn’t been quite as good this season as in years past, but he’s still a durable and reliable arm who could help a lot of clubs.